Fewer pedestrian streets this summer in Quebec

After Cartier Avenue, several other commercial arteries in downtown Quebec have disappeared from the list of streets that will be pedestrianized this summer. In lower town, the sections of Saint-Joseph Est and Saint-Vallier Ouest streets will no longer be pedestrianized on weekends.

This means that almost half of the pedestrian commercial arteries of 2023 will not return this year. The short segment of rue Notre-Dame-des-Anges behind the La Bordée theater will also not be closed to automobile traffic for the entire summer as was the case in past years.

At the same time, the City is still carrying out a project to pedestrianize certain sectors of Old Quebec.

Municipal councilor and head of economic development on the executive committee, David Weiser says that for Saint-Joseph Street, pedestrianization is not coming back because no project has been presented by the community. SDC Saint-Roch has not yet confirmed these statements.

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The commercial arteries are the hearts of the communities and then the local businesses are the anchor points, so it is certain that if they are not mobilized and they do not want to animate them, we do not want to impose on them, that wouldn’t make any sense, it has to come from the middlesays David Weiser.

As with the perpetuation of ephemeral squares, the City wants commercial development companies (SDC) to take responsibility for their project.

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The head of commercial streets on the executive committee, David Weiser (archive photo).

Photo: Radio-Canada / Marika Wheeler

Many commercial arteries had been pedestrianized under the Labeaume administration from the summer of 2020. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, limiting access to automobiles should also allow pedestrians to respect the distancing measures in force at the time. era.

It must be understood that these have been difficult years for traders with the pandemic and inflation. We have improved the programs for SDCs so that they can do activities if they wish, but it is up to them to make the decisionsupports the municipal councilor.

Traders win over residents

On several commercial arteries, pedestrianization does not suit everyone. As is the case on Cartier Avenue which was blocked last summer to motorists, on Sundays, between July and the first week of September, between René-Lévesque Boulevard and Aberdeen Street.

Marie Langlois, director of the SDC Montcalm, explains that elected officials came to meet them to present a fixed pedestrianization project on Cartier Avenue between Fraser and Aberdeen streets which would have been installed all summer with amenities and greenery. However, the project which would have been more restrictive for motorists than those of previous summers did not pass.

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The last three years, the southern portion of Cartier Avenue in the Montcalm sector in Quebec City became pedestrianized during the summer (archive photo).

Photo: Radio-Canada / Guillaume Croteau-Langevin

The agreement we had with the elected officials was that if the project was not accepted by the members in a vote, it would be put aside and they would not impose the pedestrian street this year. People did not accept it, so today we gather with no pedestrian streets at all, except during SDC eventsreveals the director of the SDC.

Through dialogue, we came to the conclusion that they are not ready to make the change. We will see next year if there is a need to do a pilot project.says David Weiser.

Of the 32 merchants present, 30 voted against the project. 60 members were invited to come and watch the presentation and then vote.It really looks like the figures from when we had a referendum in 2023 on the same subjectremarks Marie Langlois.

>>Marie Langlois on the sidewalk of Avenue Cartier.>>

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Marie Langlois, director of the SDC Montcalm.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Magalie Masson

She relates that some merchants said they were making losses with pedestrianization. Most of their customers are not residents but people who come from outside and after that they have complaints about parking and drops in incomeshe maintains.

However, the satisfaction these merchants have at having been listened to this year comes up against the disappointment of certain residents of the sector who have the impression that the opinions of the merchants prevailed over theirs. It is certain that we were surprised, especially since we did not have a say in this decision which was announcedlaments Maude Rodrigue, an administrator of the Montcalm Neighborhood Council, emphasizing the fact that residents were not consulted in this matter.

She recalls that in February 2023, the Neighborhood Council carried out a survey of residents and 94% of the 750 respondents expressed themselves in favor of pedestrianization of the artery.

>>Maude Rodrigue on Cartier Avenue.>>

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Maude Rodrigue, an administrator of the Montcalm Neighborhood Council.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Magalie Masson

In a commercial artery, merchants must be happy so that they can operate their business well.however, answers David Weiser.

The municipal councilor still says that next year it will be different, residents will also be invited to the discussion. Everyone will have to sit down together to see what we can do for the future., he announces. This is precisely what the Neighborhood Council wants.

We pose the debate in binary terms, as if it were pro-traders versus anti-traders. But we are sensitive to their plight, we want to think with them about ways that will encourage attendancesupports Maude Rodrigue. We think that pedestrianization is a good way to encourage traders, we are not sure that it is pedestrianization that causes business to go less well.

Succeed in your pedestrianization

Not far from there, in the Saint-Jean-Baptiste district, rue Saint-Jean remains pedestrianized on weekends this summer. It has already been underway since Saturday.

The way you see the commercial street is different in this neighborhood. It becomes the destination of the neighborhood, we go there because it is pedestrianized and we want to stroll in the streetobserves François Blay Martel, general director of SDC Faubourg Saint-Jean.

>>The pedestrianized rue Saint-Jean.>>

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Traders are taking over the space on rue Saint-Jean.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Guillaume Croteau-Langevin

The enthusiasm is such that the City had to refuse the request that it be closed to automobile traffic at all times during the summer. Because of the RTC and road safety, it’s not something we can do this year, but we’ll see if there won’t be something to do later. That’s what I was saying, it really depends on each sectorunderlines the advisor, David Weiser.

This success is the result of merchants’ desire to adapt. This brings a change in practice, it is certain that we do not do business in the same way when the street is pedestrianized. It’s a matter of coming to terms with the new realityargues François Blay Martel. Traders must be mobilized and want it to work.

Now, they are taking advantage of the street space and the SDC is also increasing activities and events there throughout the summer to attract people. If you take out a table and you take out a marquee, it’s sure to attract people illustrates the director.

>>Close-up of François Blay Martel, with Rue Saint-Jean behind him.>>

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François Blay Martel, director of the SDC Faubourg Saint-Jean (archive photo).

Photo: Radio-Canada / Colin Côté-Paulette

Ultimately, the SDC received profits. When it’s pedestrianized, there are definitely more people. Then research shows that the slower people move on an artery, the more profitable it is for commerce.indicates François Blay Martel.

Even some holdouts were convinced. Two years ago, traders were totally opposed to it, then slowly they realized that ultimately it is interesting because there are more people who stopadds the director.

With information from Magalie Masson

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