Retailers are disgusted by bike lanes that are hurting their business

Several merchants are worried about the future of their business while a bike path will be installed on Henri Bourassa Boulevard in 2024.

• Also read: Cycle path on Henri-Bourassa: “Ferrandez speaks through his hat”

• Also read: A retailer blames a bike path for the closure of his shoe repair shop, which he founded in 1939

On December 1, Kelly Shoemaking, an institution founded in 1939, closed its doors. The owner, Éric Bussière, believes that the impending construction of the Réseau express vélo (REV) cycle path has stopped operations.

This new road will block the parking spaces in front of his store.

“When they presented their project to us, it was a window dressing,” says Bussière. They told us we didn’t need a parking space. Half of my customers came to my store by car.

Andre Savoie

Éric Bussière, former owner of Kelly Shoe Repair, is disappointed to have to close the doors of his business. Photo Mathieu Boulay

“They added that the new cycle path would bring us renewal and a new clientele. I don’t know what planet they live on to say that.”

The same goes for the owner of the Salaison St-André, which is just a stone’s throw from his colleague.

Andre Savoie

André Savoie (owner of the Salaison St-André), who is dissatisfied with the introduction of a bike path reserved for buses and a lane in front of his business on Henri-Bourassa Boulevard. Photo in his shop on Friday, December 8, 2023. PHOTO MARTIN CHEVALIER Photo Martin Chevalier

“I’m about to hand my company over to my son, but I’m no longer sure whether we’ll be able to do that,” says André Savoie, whose company is celebrating its 60th anniversary next February. I won’t put my boy in misery.

“Instead we will close and disappear. That’s what they want. There is no real solution.”

Mr Savoie states that he is not against the REV project, but “he would have liked to be involved in regulating off-peak parking so that everyone can live”.

A black cloud

Mr. Savoie doesn’t mince his words when it comes to Mayor Valérie Plante and her administration.

“It’s a black cloud that is hanging over our heads,” says the 57-year-old businessman. I have several clients aged 70, 75 or 80 who have mobility issues. You need your car to get to my shop.

“Our population is aging. I don’t know where Mayor Plante is going. With projects of this kind, she divides the population. I find this unfortunate and regrettable.

“They are destroying Montreal.”

In addition to a decline in his customer base, he expects delivery problems.

“We learned that our deliveries are made in the bus lane,” he explains. However, from 2025 onwards, another solution will have to be found. What are we going to do? Are we going to parachute our equipment?”

A confident mayor

The mayor of the Ahuntsic-Cartierville district tried to calm the REV project in her sector.

“Outside of rush hour, the four lanes of Henri Bourassa Boulevard are not fully utilized,” emphasizes Émilie Thuillier. It is the most frequently used public transport route in Montreal.

“We need a complete east-west cycle connection. It is truly a mobility project and our aim is to revitalize the sector.”

And she is convinced that there will be enough parking spaces around the shops on the boulevard.

“We will move the locations from Henri-Bourassa to the beginnings of the vertical streets,” she adds. There are places that are currently not filled.”

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