Saving the downtown core: Michel Leblanc and Monique Simard call for eight emergency actions to help the businesses in downtown Montréal survive

Press release | For immediate release

Montréal, June 3, 2020 – Today, Monique Simard, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership, and Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, are unveiling an action plan to help businesses downtown. Montréal Mayor Valérie Plante requested that the plan be developed as part of the work being done by the advisory committee for Montréal’s economic recovery. The plan presents eight actions needed to help downtown businesses that are currently experiencing a major slowdown that is expected to last several months.

An extraordinary situation that requires extraordinary measures

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the Ville de Montréal and the governments of Quebec and Canada have acted quickly and decisively, implementing various programs to provide support for companies. However, the situation in downtown Montréal remains worrisome. We must expect the slowdown caused by the suspension of non-essential activities to continue for several months, despite public authorities giving businesses the green light to gradually reopen. It will be quite a while before the approximately 310,000 office workers, the students, and the millions of tourists return to downtown Montréal.

“After examining the situation and consulting with stakeholders in the area, we are proposing eight actions that we believe are absolutely necessary to prevent the downtown commercial core from collapsing. Such a collapse would be devastating not only for the businesses involved but also for Montréal’s vitality and long-term growth. We believe that this plan will make it possible for a good number of stores to remain open. However, we are convinced that if we do not act quickly, it will be too late. Governments and municipal authorities will need to take a firm stance,” declared the action plan’s co-authors Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, and Monique Simard, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership.

Reduce operating costs and increase financial support for businesses

“Downtown businesses have been facing the repercussions of the crisis for over 12 weeks now. Losing revenue but still having to pay fixed costs like rent puts them in a very precarious position. The aim of the action plan is to reduce operating costs and increase their financial support. We believe that the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program must be reviewed and made more accessible. Additionally, we believe that it is critically important to provide direct support for downtown businesses by modifying the Canada Emergency Business Account,” emphasized Michel Leblanc.

Boost visitor numbers in the downtown area to optimal levels

“Since the summer events that downtown Montréal is famous for, such as festivals, sports matches and art shows, are all postponed or cancelled, we recommend that a real effort be made to change the perception of the situation downtown and offer residents a pleasant and inviting environment in compliance with health regulations. Among other things, we would like to close Sainte-Catherine Street to traffic from Atwater to Papineau for the whole summer, as well as a north-south artery, creating a pedestrian corridor to Old Montréal full of pleasant urban spaces with street furniture and occasional cultural events, while respecting the health regulations in effect during the pandemic,” said Monique Simard.

The action plan must be understood as one of the tools resulting from the committee’s work. It was created following consultations with many stakeholders from various sectors, and consists of eight actions based on three recommendations:

Reduce operating costs for downtown businesses ;

Increase financial support for downtown businesses ;

Boost visitors to the downtown core to optimal levels.

Click here to view the full action plan.

About the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM)

With a network of over 8,000 members, the CCMM is active on two fronts: being the voice of the Montréal business community and delivering specialized services to businesses and their representatives. With its finger on the pulse of current events, it acts on issues that are decisive for the prosperity of the city’s businesses. With the support of the Acclr experts, the CCMM’s goal is to accelerate the creation and growth of businesses of all sizes, at home and around the world.

For more information,

About the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership

Created in 2003, the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership is a not-for-profit organization with over 85 active members. It oversees the Quartier des Spectacles, organizing cultural activities, managing the public spaces, and promoting the Quartier as a major cultural hub. The Partnership is supported by the Ville de Montréal.

For more information, visit

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Sylvie Paquette
Coordinator, Strategy and Public Affairs
Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal
Tel. : 514 871-4000, ext. 4015

Marie Lamoureux
Advisor – Media Relations
Quartier des Spectacles Partnership
Tel. : 514 923-6772