At this time of the year, Montreal’s downtown area is usually bustling with thousands upon thousands of tourists, as well as people from all over the island and beyond. They come to do some shopping, enjoy a meal at one of the many great restaurants, or enjoy a drink (or two) on a bar terrace, while watching an eclectic array of people going by. They visit museums, the Old Port or take in the many sights the area has to offer. But this summer the downtown core has become a ghost town.
All types of festivals and events have been cancelled and even though many places have been allowed to reopen after being closed for months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, people are still staying away. Regardless of the safety measures put in place, they are still wary. One could almost imagine tumbleweed rolling down some of the streets. Especially hard hit is the Crescent street area between de Maisonneuve Boulevard and Sainte-Catherine Street, usually filled beyond capacity at this time when the Montreal Grand Prix takes place. It is the biggest sporting event in Canada, attracting several 100,000 people over a three-day period. However, due to the COVID-19 situation, the 2020 event has been postponed and businesses are suffering. The ‘World-Class’ parties have been put on hold – but some relief might be on the horizon.
As part of the City’s plan to invest $400,000 into developing and animating the downtown area, Mayor Valerie Plante announced in a statement that as of Friday July 24th, Crescent Street will be closed to cars and become pedestrian-only along that stretch until September 30th, addressing a request from the Crescent Street Merchants Association. “Montrealers will be able to benefit from an additional space in the city centre, where it will be nice to encourage the local economy, to eat or simply to get outdoors,” she stated and added that “the pedestrianization will strengthen Montreal’s reputation as a food and entertainment destination, especially in summer… pedestrianization will support the resumption of commercial activities and make it easier to comply with the distancing measures that everyone will have to deal with in the coming months.”