Montreal’s Future Depends on Commercial Renewal

Montreal’s most charming retail districts are emptying out in the face of changing consumer patterns and crumbling infrastructure. A strong partnership between planners and stakeholders could reverse these trends.

We need a new paradigm for commercial development,” says Nancy Shoiry, the primary director of Montreal’s land-use development department. “Planning restrictions should offer more flexibility to help landlords make better use of their empty properties. Measures such as subsidies to maintain and renovate commercial buildings or to help start-up businesses are essential.”

ShoiryShoiry says that Montreal’s downtown commercial streets are defined by a distinctive attractive character that could play a crucial role in a future retail branding exercise to reinforce competitive advantages. Right now, their positive qualities are hurt by a lack of accessibility, on-going urban infrastructure works and limited parking in comparison with newer options in suburbia.

As suburban neighbourhoods in Montreal have rapidly urbanized, they’ve attracted even more families away from the downtown core. Montreal’s sustainability goals have also been hurt as car-dependent commercial centers compete with those on urban transit lines. Meanwhile, both lose out as more people shop on-line.

Shoiry says there are lots of opportunities to turn these trends around if planning authorities work in partnership with business and property owners, consumers and the marketplace itself.

The city can be committed to helping these stakeholders, but to work in a partnership approach, we must share our knowledge of the ever-evolving economic and social dynamics,” she says. “Local stakeholders are best-placed to know what makes a commercial street thrive.”

Note: This article appears on page 27 of the Spring 2014 issue of Canadian Real Estate Magazine.

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Tracey Arial

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Tracey Arial

Tracey Arial helps Canadians grow with notable nonfiction and urban agriculture.

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  • We share a similar dilemma in Winnipeg, Tracey. The roads are in absolutely dreadful shape with potholes and sinkholes large enough to swallow a small car. So they’ve decided to put the expansion of the rapid-transit system on hold in order to fix the roads, which in turn, will put more stress on the roadways. I think many regions are suffering after the effects if the dreadful winter we have all had to endure.

  • Tracey Arial says:

    Oh no. That’s horrible. The expansion of the rapid transit is so important. I’m afraid that all of Canada may have a major infrastructure issue, although this winter certainly didn’t help.

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