12 Verdun merchants plan to sue borough — over a bike path

A small group of Verdun business owners are so upset that the borough is planning to add a bike path on their street, they're threatening legal action.

12 merchants served borough mayor Jean-François Parenteau with a letter on Thursday, giving the administration until Monday to respond before facing legal action.  The business owners say they believe the removal of some parking spaces along Verdun Street, where the bike lane will run, could put their profit margins in jeopardy.

It's just the latest salvo in the at-times hostile relationship between Montreal's cyclists and motorists, one that some say has worsened since resolutely-pro-cyclist Mayor Valérie Plante took office in 2017.  

Plante has promised to build a 67 kilometre "express" bike lane network across the island, that could allow cyclists to bypass traffic stops in some sections.

During last weekend's annual Tour de l'Île cycling festival, which sees roads across the island closed to vehicles for one day so cyclists can safely make use of them, Côte Saint-Luc city councillor Ruth Kovac drew ire and ridicule for an incendiary Tweet (for which she later apologized) attacking the event, adding that she "hope[s] it pours all day."

Back in Verdun, Parenteau, who sits on the Executive Committee as an independent (he was elected as a member of then-Mayor Denis Coderre's party, before leaving Ensemble Montreal to join the Plante Administration) told The Gazette he's aware of the merchants' legal threats.  

He added that while he empathizes with their fears of losing business, he adds that ample consultations on the project have been held dating back to 2017.

The borough has also attempted to reconcile the merchants' demands for parking spots with their effort to increase active transport in the area by making temporary parking spaces more accessible on side-streets.  But the business owners have said that isn't good enough.