For anyone living on Park Avenue above Mount Royal, the recent construction on the street is well-known and unwelcome. Noise starts as early as 7 a.m., while dust, gravel, and a maze of metal slabs and bright cones mar the sidewalk.
The construction is meant to facilitate the revamping of an important aqueduct that runs underneath the street. The City discovered that the aqueduct had reached critical condition from old age and work would be required on it immediately.
One of the main victims of this upgrade is the business community that sits on the avenue itself. Shopkeepers have been forced to accept the City of Montreal’s plan without much consideration.
“Only three weeks notice was given,” said Jennifer Longeran, the owner of Artistri, a boutique that sits on the most affected stretch of street, between Fairmount and St. Viateur avenues. She said her sales are down by as much as 30 per cent.
“There were times when people didn’t even know that the business was open,” she said.
Artistri is in its second year of business, and Longeran said she fears for the boutique’s survival. She was not expecting a huge amount of growth this year, and the construction has put a tremendous strain on her operations.
Longeran said she was also concerned about the length of time necessary to rebuild the street, which is currently estimated at about two years. She is trying to maintain a positive attitude, she said, but “there is also the chance of bankruptcy.”
Any compensation from the city, she said, was “flatly refused,” though the city has hired a marketing firm to help promote Park Avenue during construction.
According to Anna Angelis, co-owner of Em Café, affected merchants gathered with representatives of the city in the Mile End Library, where it was they discussed how construction would occur.
Angelis said her business has not felt the ill effects of construction as much as Artistri.
“Fortunately, the sidewalks were untouched” she said, adding that “people are not going to stop eating.” The construction may have even boosted her business since some workers come into the café for breakfast, lunch, or a coffee.