Sainte-Catherine will be a little busier than this in a few months.
After years of contemplation, the Gay Village will finally be pedestrianized, at least for the summer. On Tuesday the borough of Ville-Marie decided that Sainte-Catherine will be closed to traffic from Berri to Papineau, with traffic still flowing south onto Berri and Labelle to allow for traffic and access to a hospital, respectively. This stretch of about 15 blocks will be this way from June 17 and September 3, a period during which Just For Laughs, the Jazz Festival and Les Francofolies will take place in or around the area.
This move has positive and negative aspects. Businesses in the area will no doubt reap the benefits from this, because it will make the Village the place to be this summer. It will probably also help to ease the stress on streets like St-Denis during the many festivals. And anything that gets people to take public transit can’t be bad.
But you have to wonder why this is only happening now. After years of shutting down in a heavy-handed manner any attempt by a bar to have a front terrace (sometimes including a police presence), the borough is embracing this like it was into the idea all along. Maybe Ville-Marie Mayor Benoit Labonté, a Tremblay opponent and possible mayoral candidate, is looking to garner favour. I’ve heard people say this deal is due to something fishier…
On a purely logistical level, there are definitely going to be some issues with this. The main problem is, as it always is, traffic. It’s likely that all the Sainte-Catherine traffic with just be pushed to René-Lévesque or Ontario. Getting onto the Jacques-Cartier Bridge will be interesting. Getting a night’s sleep if you live in the area (with terraces closing at 3am, not to mention after-hours clubs) will also be a treat. But, all things considered, it can be looked at as a good test case. It will probably be some fun too.