Petition to close Old Montreal to vehicle traffic gets mixed reviews

A local lobby group that works on behalf of pedestrians and cyclists to make city streets safer has begun an online petition, to kick off discussions about closing Old Montreal and the Old Port to most car and truck traffic.

The Active Mobility Association of Ville-Marie argues the narrow cobblestone roads that define the popular tourism district were not designed for modern vehicles, and are not able to accommodate multiple modes of transportation.

"Old Montreal and the Old Port are two of the most attractive areas for daily or occasional visitors, who mostly walk in those areas," reads the petition, which has already garnered more than 500 signatures and has the support of at least 15 community organizations, including the Residents Association of Old Montreal.

"People are used to walking in the Old Port," said Jean-Pierre, who works security in the area down by the water currently occupied by the Cirque du Soleil show, Alegría. 

He does not think banning vehicular traffic in the area around Place Jacques-Cartier will change much for the people who pass through the area on a daily basis, and he thinks it might actually help attract more tourism.

"The tourists that come, they don't want to see cars, they what to see the Old Montreal, so I thinks it's a good thing," he said.

Shop owners closer to the McGill Street are less enthusiastic about the proposal.

"I think it really would not work for this area, and it will hurt by business," said one café owner on Notre-dame. 

"It's a neighbourhood sensitive thing," he said.

The petition proposes the ban include a complete closure of de la Commune from Berri to McGill. Saint-Antoine would be the northern barrier.