Downtown is finally getting better, except for the offices

The lifting of health measures has done the most good for downtown Montreal, which has been hard hit by the pandemic. Five out of six indicator categories are showing notable signs of improvement, but “concerns remain” about offices, according to a study updated Monday.

Posted at 7:00 am

Andre Dubuc

Andre Dubuc
The press

The improvement is noticeable in retail. The number of closed shops in the city center is declining. According to the latest version of the study, half of the shops and restaurants that were closed six months ago have reopened in the underground galleries The state of downtownprepared by Montréal centre-ville and the Urban Development Institute of Québec (IDU) in cooperation with provincial and local authorities.

This edition of The downtown state de Montréal presents an update of data for the first quarter of 2022 on activity levels in six categories of indicators: offices, businesses, housing, higher education, tourism and transport. Specifically, the data comes from a web survey of 1,000 residents of the Montreal metropolitan area conducted in early May 2022.

When it comes to housing, the authors of the study are pleased that the residential function of the city center has continued to grow in the two years of the pandemic. In 2021, the Ville-Marie district had 26,000 inhabitants.

As for public transport, ridership has certainly increased compared to previous quarters, but remains only half what it was before the pandemic. “In the first quarter of 2022 we find the pre-pandemic modal shares. It’s about proportions. With teleworking, sheer travel numbers have gone down,” the document, presented on Monday, said.

Ah, telecommuting! It’s proving more resilient than inner-city supporters hoped for. University benches are neglected by 13% of the student cohort studying remotely in Q1 2022, compared to 4% before the pandemic.

In the offices, the proportion of teleworkers is still high. At the end of March, the offices available for rent were the equivalent of 40 towers the size of 1000 De La Gauchetière. This proportion is likely to increase further in the coming months, as reported on Friday The press on the front page of the division.

Jean-Marc Fournier, CEO of the Urban Development Institute, wants to put this rather gloomy portrait into perspective. “The office market has historically been very available, prices adjusted and the market eventually recovered,” he said in a telephone interview.


Jean-Marc Fournier, CEO of the Urban Development Institute of Quebec

He believes that the opening of the Metropolitan Express Network will also have an effect that is not reflected in the current data. He’s also pleased that the percentage of businesses wanting to stay downtown has risen from 74% to 82% since the last survey last fall.

Downtown Montreal beats troop recall

To help patients speed their recovery, downtown Montreal will lead an alliance bringing together about forty partners. The first initiative is dedicated to highlighting the jewels, public spaces and significant buildings of the city centre.

Other measures concern parking, street beautification, welcoming visitors, strengthening safety and cleanliness, and street revitalization.

The concerted work of inner-city actors over the past two years is bearing fruit, but the pace must not be slowed down.

Glenn Castanheira, Montreal Centre-Ville General Manager, in a press release

The Alliance Standing Committee includes the usual suspects: governments, the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, the IDU, the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Montreal, the Palais des Congrès de Montreal, the Quartier des Spectacles, Tourisme Montreal and McGill University.

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