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A group of Verdun merchants has sent a lawyer’s letter to the city demanding it put on hold plans to convert hundreds of parking spaces into a bicycle lane.

The borough announced in May a two-year pilot project to test out dedicated bike lanes on Verdun St.

It has resulted in no parking on the south side of the street – and if the pilot project is given the green light, 275 parking spots will be permanently eliminated.Merchants argue the loss of parking could be devastating to their businesses and on Friday, sent a formal letter to the city, saying they want the project halted.

If no response is received by Monday, they said they're prepared to file a lawsuit.

Verdun Mayor Jean-Francois Parenteau said he's received the letter and the city will issue a response.  

Despite the resistance, though, he has no plans to stop the pilot project this summer. He stressed that the city is working to accommodate retailers by adding extra parking for customers on side streets.

Since this is a pilot project, nothing is set in stone, he said, adding that should this experiment prove to be a failure when it ends in October, he'll be ready to admit defeat.

“I was a merchant before I was an elected official. I had a store on Verdun St., so I know how they feel presently,” he said. “That's what I tried to explain to them. If we work together, for sure this pilot project will be a success. And if it's not a success, at the end of summer we realize all together it was a really bad idea, I'll be the first to say it's finished and we don't continue next summer.”

Parenteau said that he doesn’t believe the group has grounds for a lawsuit, and he wants to keep communication between the borough and merchants open and find a solution that makes both sides happy.