Store owners in the Plateau-Mont Royal borough hope whoever becomes mayor next week will be able to change the neighbourhood's fate.
As early voters in the borough went to the polls Sunday, merchants and restaurateurs said they rarely see people from outside the district anymore.
Costa Berlemis, manager of La Maison Grecque, said the off-island clientele has vanished because it's too difficult to get to Duluth Ave.
"You can't make it complicated for people who come from away. The [parking] vignettes change every two months. You have customers driving in, we've been here 40 years and they're like, 'where do I go?,'" said Berlemis.
He said the borough's administration seems content to have construction taking place constantly, even if it means major thoroughfares are blocked off for weeks or months at a time.
He pointed out that one block of Berri St. was closed for a rebuild of sewers and water mains, and it will remain closed until December.
"They should find a way to do it in the proper manner, taking restaurants into consideration. We see the same issues with the city over and over again, forgetting about restaurants," said Berlemis.
Alex Mondry, owner of the Floh Shoppe on St. Denis, said her neighbours had abandoned the neighbourhood because it's too difficult to attract shoppers.
"We did hear about even outfits like Urban Outfitters had to move out because their profits were dropping," said Mondry.
Merchants say that even though they cannot vote, they are crucial members of the borough.
"We don't vote but we're part of this community. We've been here a long time. I was born in this restaurant," said Berlemis.
Projet Montreal candidate Luc Rabouin said he has worked on improving conditions for shopkeepers in the past, and if elected he will continue to do so.
"I worked in the last five years in local economic development. I want to work with them as partners, I want to put more emphasis on local economic development," said Rabouin.
Vrai Changement candidate Marc-Antoine Desjardins said he wants to impose rent control on commercial spaces, while Ensemble Montreal candidate Jean-Pierre Szaraz says that fewer than 10 percent of customers in the Plateau-Mont Royal borough now come from outside the neighbourhood.
Early voting took place on Sept. 29, while the final voting day to choose a new borough mayor is Sunday Oct. 6.