Laurier Ave. merchants brace for a summer of construction

Merchants along Laurier Avenue Ouest are preparing for their first summer of major road work, and some business owners say they are already seeing a drop in sales.

Kimio Nguyen, owner of Mikado restaurant, said he's seen a drop in revenue by nearly 20 per cent since the work started in January.

The updates to the water and sewer system, between Côte-Sainte-Catherine and Querbes streets, won't be completed until the fall of 2018.

Nguyen told Radio-Canada that on top of losing customers, he's also been forced to close early due to water shut-offs.

The $16-million worth of work is being done to rebuild underground pipes, but also to improve the stretch by expanding sidewalks, replacing benches and renovating public squares.

Learning from St-Denis

Merchants on St-Denis Street faced major challenges when similar infrastructure work was conducted there between September 2015 and 2016.

The roadwork, between Duluth Avenue and Marie-Anne Street, decreased foot traffic and at times left businesses inaccessible.

Businesses owners criticized the city for not doing enough to ease the inconveniences faced by their clients. 

But one Laurier Avenue shop owner says he's had a good experience with the city over the first three months of work, and believes lessons were learned from the St-Denis problems.

"There is good communication," said Moïse Saad, owner of Avenue Des Bas. "They are well organized, both for pedestrians and for parking."

Stéphanie McPherson, owner of the Lyla boutique, echoed that point, saying the municipality's liaison officer has responded quickly to the needs of merchants.

"The work makes access to businesses more difficult, because you have to make small passages, small bridges," she said. "But they do a lot. They have put a lot of effort in bringing us solutions to make it easier for the customer."

The city is also financing a merchant initiative to offer valet parking along the street, set to be launched next week.