Several dealers in the Cartier sector on Tuesday expressed concern about the development of a common road in their neighborhood to allow the tram to pass.
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Merchants spokesman Marc-Antoine Muños, owner of La Scala restaurant on René-Lévesque, estimates that the $4 billion project should be “more functional”. “What we’re afraid of is that we won’t be able to deliver anymore, that the trucks won’t arrive anymore. There are all sorts of details.”
The shopkeeper assures us that he is not against the tram. But he wants the project to be better thought out and he wants to keep the achievements he has. He was joined on Tuesday by a dozen traders who are just as concerned as he is. He has also taken his pilgrim’s staff with him in recent days and has consulted about thirty merchants, all but one opposed to the project as presented, he assured.
What raises eyebrows is the 500-metre shared lane on René-Lévesque, which only gives way to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists at low speed and local traffic. There is no room for them on their narrow artery to have more trucks stop for deliveries.
The city responded that parking spaces are provided for this purpose. But that doesn’t convince the owners. They claim, using a tape measure, that traffic will be blocked, which the city denies. “Low traffic on shared lanes allows vehicles to be temporarily idle for deliveries. In the designated landing zones, it will be possible to immobilize a delivery vehicle there while leaving sufficient space free for other users (pedestrians, cyclists, motorists),” specified city spokesman David O’Brien.
Dealers are also concerned about the safety of pedestrians and cyclists traveling in the same lane as cars, even if the latter have to slow down.
Businesspeople say they have not been briefed or made aware of the city’s consultations over the past few weeks. “We realize that we have a great lack of information. It was done at the last minute, a bit in secret,” says Mr. Muños, who recalls that the pandemic and labor shortages have kept traders “very busy” in recent months.
Some are calling for more formal consultations, such as a referendum. This is the case of Kim Colonna, owner of Petits Creux, on Cartier.
“We were forced to do it. I think if we held a referendum, the project would not happen. […] I do not support the project in its current form. I think we need a public transport project, but it’s taking a different form,” he said, emphasizing the benefits of a subway.
split in two
For his part, François Blais of Bistro B is concerned about the vitality of Cartier’s business sector. “Public transport is necessary, but I doubt that a streetcar is a necessity for Quebec City. But what worries merchants the most is that the tram will be on the surface, splitting our business sector in two, and there will be parking problems and security and snow removal problems. As long as you’re making a project, you can take a little extra time and think about it carefully.
The Montcalm Commercial Development Company (SDC) will hold a special meeting on the subject in the coming weeks. Concerned traders expect the SDC to reiterate their fears.
Quebec Mayor Bruno Marchand stressed that the consultations are “far from over”. “We are pleased that the citizens are taking part in the discussions for better integration of the tram in the district. We are convinced that despite the questions arising from the development and its attractiveness, the tram will be beneficial for the dealers in the branch. We invite all traders to ask their questions and attend the meetings dedicated to them,” he said in a statement sent to the Protocol.