A plan to revamp Pointe-Claire's Valois Village has been sent back to the drawing board after merchants raised concerns that it would make parking in the area too difficult.
The plan, as it was presented to merchants in late February, would have reduced the number of parking spots between Valois Park and Chester Avenue from 315 spaces to 274.
"Everybody here relies on the parking, it's a horrible idea," said Roslyn Gilbert, the owner of Gilbert & Daughter on Donegani Avenue.
"For myself, my business, most people come in from the city, where are they going to park?"
In front of Gilbert's clothing store in the Valois Commercial Centre is a large public parking lot with 152 spaces that would be lost if the city went through with the redevelopment.
The plan calls for Donegani to be shifted closer to the centre and two mixed-use buildings to be put up on the south side of the Avenue.
Some street parking would be put in place, but it would not make up for the loss of the parking lot, said Gilbert.
Plan puts merchants in 'jeopardy'
According to city documents, reducing the number of public parking spaces would encourage shoppers to leave their cars behind and take public transportation, walk or use their bike to get to the village.
"I think the initial proposal was utopian, frankly," said Diane Hodges, the owner of Bramble House, which is in the same shopping centre as Gilbert & Daughter.
"I mean it would be gorgeous if this village could work, but it's not that kind of village."
Hodges said many of the businesses in the Valois Village, such as her speciality store that only sells goods from the British Isles, are "destination shops" that many drive to from as far away as the U.S. and Ontario.
Those kinds of customers would not be traveling to the village by public transportation or bike and would need parking.
Both Gilbert and Hodges agree the area needs a bit of a facelift, but not at the cost of their businesses.
"It's going to put all our businesses in jeopardy. They're good about raising our taxes, but we need to have places for our customers to park," said Gilbert.
Re-drawn plan expected in late spring
Pointe-Claire Mayor Morris Trudeau said the city has been working on the redevelopment for a number of years now.
"We were kind of hoping that by spicing it up a little bit, we could attract people," he said.
That spicing up included new bike paths, more green space and public squares, as well as the construction of residential developments.
However, given the feedback from merchants and a petition that was started by Hodges, Trudeau said they'll send the plan back to be re-done.
"They came out with a very strong voice, 'leave parking, tweak it, but no major change in the parking lots.'"
He expects the company behind the redevelopment to have a new plan ready to present to the city's council by April or May.