With warm, sunny weather and the Grand Prix race in town, this weekend marks the unofficial start of summer tourism in Montreal – but those hoping to hit the sales on Ste-Catherine Street are navigating a lot of construction.
Some tourists didn't seem too bothered by the torn-up roads, including Mary Muscak from Toronto, who brought her grandchildren to town for some shopping and Formula 1.
"When you're on vacation, I think you're a little more tolerant to inconveniences," she said.
The city has put several measures in place this weekend to help people get around, including signage directing shoppers to stores, guides to help disoriented tourists, and temporarily paving some of the north-south streets.
Visiting from Barcelona, Ignacio Sallent wasn't deterred.
"It's the first time that I'm walking here. I think it's very nice apart from the works that they are doing," he said.
Merchants between Bleury St. and Robert-Bourassa Blvd. have been dealing with the construction for months.
Business has dropped at Karima Banami's shop, Jannat Souvenir.
"Of course we lost a lot of customers because it blocks the road and Ste-Catherine is like a labyrinth," she said.
The city is offering $25 million in financial compensation to local businesses.
Banami wonders if it will be enough.
"We will see but I don't think so," she said.
So far, only one merchant has applied for the compensation program, according to the city.
"We can't apply for them," said executive committee member Robert Beaudry. "They have to fill out the form, and we're trying to get the message out."
Once the work is complete, Ste-Catherine St. will be down to one lane of traffic for cars, with expanded sidewalks and improved lighting.
Phase One is expected to be completed in October of next year, at which point work will extend west to Atwater Ave.