Stretches of Saint-Laurent, other streets in Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie to close to cars once businesses reopen

Residents of Montreal’s Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie borough will benefit from a few changes this season that aim to promote life, work, and entertainment just steps from their front doors – including new “transit malls” on some of the area’s main streets. 

The borough announced on Tuesday that it will be turning part of Saint-Laurent Boulevard into shared spaces designated for pedestrians, cyclists and public transit users amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The same will be done for parts of Masson and Beaubien Streets. 

The idea is to make sure physical distancing guidelines will be respected once businesses in these areas begin to reopen by providing extra space for restaurants, bars, and cafés to set up furniture for customers outdoors, at no extra cost. 

The borough wants to make sure its residents can “do anything less than 500 metres from their house,” Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie Mayor François William Croteau told CTV News on Wednesday. 

It would be difficult for businesses – such as those in Little Italy – to respect physical distancing rules once they reopen without these extra measures, as lineups are likely to form, Croteau explained. 

“On those three streets, we concluded that we won’t have enough space if we let cars continue drive (there),” he said. “So, what we decided short-term right now, is to take cars off the street.”

A stress-free shopping experience could also help encourage consumers to buy local. The areas “will allow traders and restaurateurs to invest in public space when resuming their activities, in optimal sanitary conditions,” reads the city of Montreal’s website.

“It’s going to help the merchants continue their activities and not go bankrupt,” Croteau said. “For us, it’s very important to help them.” 

The timeline on the project isn’t yet set in stone – it should start at the beginning of June, following consultations with multiple groups involved, and will run as long as the pandemic creates a need for it. 

Saint-Laurent Boulevard will be closed to cars between Saint-Zotique and Jean-Talon Streets. Saint-Laurent being one of Montreal’s main arteries, Croteau said he doesn’t expect the project to create significant traffic. 

“There aren’t so many cars right now, and once the activities restart, they’re not going to restart as usual,” he said. “It’s not going to be a normal situation, so we’re not thinking it’s going to be a problem.” 

Once things go back to normal, the borough will readjust.

Masson Street between 2nd Avenue and Saint-Michel Boulevard, as well as Beaubien Street between Christophe-Colomb and Saint-Denis Streets will also be closed to cars, 

“It’s important to make sure people are safe when they’re walking,” Croteau said.

The borough will also be making a bike delivery service available for free for local businesses and consumers to benefit from for the first few months after stores reopen, Croteau said. 

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