City of Montreal to provincial, federal governments: Help bail out downtown

The City of Montreal is urgently asking the provincial and federal governments to help bail out downtown businesses that have been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, saying previously announced aid will soon run out.

Executive committee member Luc Rabouin said many businesses are facing a scary winter after a summer that was marked by non-existant tourism and empty office towers.

“We don't really know how much, but we know that it's a very critical situation,” he said. “During the summer, some businesses were able to do some good business.”

Rabouin said the provincial and federal governments need to treat the downtown core like they would a business sector such as aerospace or the auto industry.

“What we need is a very urgent action plan to save downtown,” he said.

Among the downtown businesses that have been especially hard hit are bars and restaurants, which have been forced shut. While some restaurants are continuing as takeout-only, Alain Creton said that's not an option for his business, Chez Alexandre.

“For us, as a French restaurant, we can't do take out,” he said.

Creton, who also serves as president of the Peel Street Merchants Association, said he's benefitted from city tax breaks and discounted terrasse fees but the pandemic has still token a steep toll.

“It's going to be close to $100,000 from my pocket to keep this business alive,” he said. “Some other people are worse off than me. The hotels are closed.”

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