Downtown Montréal's vitality: investments are bearing fruit

Press release - For Immediate Release

Montréal, August 15, 2023 - Towards record attendance at festivals and events in the Quartier des Spectacles, high satisfaction levels with the revitalization of Sainte-Catherine Street and Phillips Square, tourist traffic exceeding forecasts, a wave of new business openings: downtown Montreal stands out and benefits from the investments made to boost its appeal to Montrealers, visitors, and investors.

That's the main conclusion to emerge from the data presented today by Montréal centre-ville, the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership, Tourism Montréal and The Hotel Association of Greater Montreal in the presence of Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montréal and of Ville-Marie borough.

"Downtown Montreal is the economic heart of Quebec, and it's doing well. Every time we invest heavily to renovate streets, create parks, or replace downtown amenities, we do so with economic vitality in mind, and it works. The health of downtown Montreal sets it apart from all other major cities in North America, and with the ongoing transformation of Sainte-Catherine and the new McGill Avenue urban forest, we're giving ourselves the means to make downtown even more competitive and attractive. The exceptional results unveiled today confirm that the mobilization of the city and all its partners to attract more visitors, students, workers and residents is bearing fruit," declared Valérie Plante, mayor of Montréal.

New Sainte-Catherine West: Montrealers appreciate the project

A survey of users and businesses conducted by Montréal centre-ville, as well as geolocation data, confirm that the metamorphosis of Sainte-Catherine Street West and Phillips Square has enhanced the attractiveness of the area, as well as the experience of Montrealers and visitors.

The transformation of this sector initiated by the City, combined with initiatives such as placemaking, a dedicated street cleaning team, and musical programming led by Montréal centre-ville, in collaboration with the Quartier des spectacles Partnership, have achieved the following results:

  • The vacancy rate is half as high in this sector.
  • Across the area, there have been six times as many commercial openings as closures since spring. - Over two thirds of users of Phillips Square are Montrealers and office workers. More and more Montrealers are using it since the revitalization of Sainte-Catherine Street initiated in 2019 by the City of Montreal.
  • The majority of users describe Phillips Square as pleasant, beautiful, and clean.
  • More users enjoy the area's attractions and businesses after visiting Phillips Square than in 2019.

As downtown Montréal's residential population continues to grow, with over 3,000 new residential units added since the beginning of the year, efforts to beautify the city's core are also essential to its appeal to residents.

"We're witnessing the emergence of a new living environment in the heart of downtown, appreciated by Montrealers and visitors alike. It's very encouraging for the continued renewal of Sainte-Catherine Street. Above all, we need a vibrant, clean, safe, and lively downtown for the hundreds of thousands of people who visit us every day. That's why Montréal centre-ville focuses its efforts on placemaking, greenery, cleanliness, and programming of the area, including landmarks like Phillips and Dorchester squares—priorities shared by visitors and residents alike," says Glenn Castanheira, Executive Director of Montréal centre-ville.

Towards a record summer for festivals and events in the Quartier des spectacles

Since the start of summer, thousands of festival-goers have been taking part in the major events for which Montreal is world-renowned. Initial attendance figures, notably for Juste pour Rire Montréal/Just For Laughs, with 1.2 million visitors in the outdoor site, and for Festival TransAmériques, with 92% attendance at its venues, exceed pre-event figures and point to future records. These figures confirm the growing appeal of downtown and the Quartier des spectacles as a must-see cultural destination for Montrealers and visitors.

"The festivals of the Quartier des Spectacles are an essential driving force in the cultural life of our metropolis, and contribute magnificently to Montreal's worldwide reputation. Every summer, they attract thousands of visitors and tourists, stimulating the local economy and strengthening the appeal of the downtown area. The first attendance figures released promise that records will be broken this year - there's a lot to celebrate!" declared Monique Simard, chair of the board of directors, Quartier des Spectacles Partnership.

Vitality of downtown tourism

With downtown Montréal as Quebec's tourism gateway, Tourism Montréal's forecast-beating tourism figures presented yesterday are encouraging for the vitality of the heart of the metropolis which welcomed 100% of the visitors who flocked during the same period in 2019.

"Together, we have come through challenging times, and our perseverance has paid off. The creativity and passion of the tourism ecosystem have been the driving forces behind this renewal. The lively streets of our central neighbourhoods encourage us to celebrate and to continue working to ensure an even brighter future for the metropolis," says Yves Lalumière, President and CEO of Tourism Montréal.

In terms of hotel occupancy, the leisure tourism season generated vitality and dynamism unmatched since the pandemic. Indeed, downtown hotels posted occupancy rates of 79% in June and 80% in July, surpassing 2022 figures and approaching 2019 levels.

"Downtown hotels act as a backbone for the tourism industry, promoting the staging of major gatherings and collaborating to anchor Montreal's offering in the long term. We are therefore delighted to see that visitors are returning to the heart of the Metropolis, generating an influx that is felt in all spheres of the downtown economy," shares Jean-Sébastien Boudreault, President and CEO of the Hotel Association of Greater Montreal.


Established in 1999, Montréal centre-ville is the Downtown Business Development Corporation (SDC), a non-profit organization that brings together nearly 5,000 member businesses located between Atwater Avenue and Saint-Urbain Street, and between Sherbrooke and Saint-Antoine Streets. Montréal centre-ville is the biggest organization of its kind in Canada.

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The Quartier des Spectacles is 20 years old! The Quartier des Spectacles is Montréal’s cultural heart, boasting North America’s most concentrated and diverse group of cultural venues as well as numerous festivals and events. The Quartier also hosts innovative urban installations involving cutting-edge lighting design and immersive environments. The Quartier des Spectacles has become an international showcase for digital public art.

The Quartier des Spectacles Partnership, founded in 2003, is a non-profit organization with more than 85 members active in the district. It is responsible for animating the Quartier des Spectacles by programming cultural activities, managing and animating public spaces, providing distinctive illumination and promoting the Quartier as a must-visit cultural destination. The Partnership benefits from the support of the Ville de Montréal. 

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Tourisme Montréal is a private, non-profit organization that has been positioning Montréal as a world-class leisure and business travel destination for over 100 years. The organization leads innovative tourism strategies that have a twofold objective: to ensure visitors enjoy a quality experience and to balance economic growth with the city’s long-term interests. Tourisme Montréal plays a leading role in the management and development of Montréal’s tourism industry, and advises on issues related to the city’s economic, urban and cultural development.

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Ville de Montréal
Catherine Cadotte
Senior Press Officer, Office of the Mayor and Executive Committee
514 465-2591

Montréal centre-ville
Emmanuelle Allaire
514 298-6298

Quartier des Spectacles Partnership
Mélanie Mingotaud
514 582-5272

Tourisme Montréal
Aurélie de Blois
514 918-5290

The Hotel Association of Greater Montreal
Jean-Sébastien Boudreault