MONTREAL –McGill University geography professor Kevin Manaugh was intrigued when he heard about a new pilot project from the city to create five new walking streets out of five completely different thoroughfares.
“That’s one of the most interesting aspects of this pilot project – how different they were,” he said.
“I mean there’s one, like [Park-Stanley] in Ahunstic, where they’re basically closing streets on the waterfront.”
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City of Montreal unveils five new pedestrian streets
A single block of Ontario street in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve is slated to become pedestrian only in an apparent effort to foster more of a communal atmosphere.
Two other streets are in school zones, and a fifth, Beaubien, lies in a bustling zone with restaurants and bars.
READ MORE: City of Montreal unveils five new pedestrian streets
That street is more reminiscent of a main drag in Burlington, Vt. called Church Street.
Yet, while the pedestrian streets in Montreal represent a city investment of $500,000, Church street is managed by a city department with money from the businesses on the street.
“Our revenues come solely from private funds, whether it be the membership fees that our businesses pay, or the sponsorship dollars,” said Jenny Morse, marketing coordinator for Church Street Marketplace.
Problems with parking appear to plague Church Street just as they have plagued some walking streets already established in Montreal.
This is frequently an issue mentioned in conjunction with Prince-Arthur Street, a once-thriving commercial zone that recently has fallen on hard times.
Manaugh added that Prince-Arthur’s problems also stem from the mix of businesses there.
“There’s just restaurants, there aren’t a lot of shops or other kinds of businesses,” he said.
“It doesn’t attract business throughout the day.”
Though Manaugh was bullish on the new walking streets, the opposition in City Hall believes mayor Denis Coderre didn’t go far enough in conceiving the pilot project, and that real issues involving public transit and traffic still remain.
“Yesterday’s announcement was more like a publicity stunt,” said Marc-Andre Gadoury, the opposition leader in city council.
“Especially given the low amount of funding.”
The pilot project is slated to launch this summer.
The city is still determining whether to make it year-round or seasonal.