The businesses — including a furniture boutique, an eyeglass store, and a wild mushroom shop — sent the city a letter threatening legal action on September 15, after months of opposition to the Réseau Express Vélo (REV) cycling network.
It argues the proposed northbound and southbound cycling lanes will cause problems for delivery drivers, eliminate scarce parking and restrict the ability of pedestrians to cross the street.
Saint-Denis shop owners have struggled through months of construction that took place from 2016 to 2017 — and then the pandemic hit.
The addition of bicycle lanes would cause the remaining businesses to, "suffer harm that goes far beyond the usual normal inconveniences that usually result from public works," states the letter.
"The timing of this could not be worse," it continues. "The administration must minimize the impacts of its choices on merchants who are at the end of their rope, failing to suspend or cancel the work in question."
The bicycle lanes on St-Denis are part of the REV project, which will see the integration of 184 kilometres of bike paths across Montreal, including 17 paths that will be accessible year-round.
According to the city, the REV will be an environmentally-sound way to make the roads safer for cyclists, promising "vitalization of commercial streets and neighbourhood life," and "higher customer traffic in stores."
Laoun said the city has not addressed how the lanes could make curb access more difficult for the elderly and people with mobility issues.
"Could you imagine a little old lady in the winter?" she asked. "It's nice to be young and agile but what about the older persons?"
Her shop is listed on a website calling for the boycott of Montreal businesses including Joe Beef, La Binerie, and Bar L'Barouf for speaking out against the REV and other bike lanes around the city.
"Merchants only understand the language of money," states the website Boycott Montreal.
"Despite the risks to the safety of residents linked to the overflow of cars in central districts, merchants continue to use their economic powers, policy and media to maintain the status quo."
Laoun said these efforts are misguided.
"I'm for survival right now," she continued. "I'm for the success of these businesses that have been around for 40 years. Every time one of them closes it takes away from the beauty of our neighbourhood."
Boucherie Slovenia, a boulevard Saint-Laurent institution for 50 years, will soon serve its last spicy sausage.
The iconic home of enormous Eastern European-style sandwiches — Slovenian sausage and towering cold-cuts were staples — will close its doors forever on January 29, said the owners, Lourdes Rodrigues and Jean Teixeira, in a Facebook post.
"Thank you to all our loyal customers, for the wonderful years," they said.
With a menu overflowing with huge, yet affordable, meat and mustard sandwiches — sauerkraut, pickles and Cherry Cokes were also standard — Boucherie Slovenia is the latest of the Main's iconic old-school institutions to close.
The beloved Moishes steakhouse announced its closure under the strain of the pandemic in the summer of 2020.
The Boucherie Slovenia Facebook post asks readers to share their memories of the restaurant and butcher shop, with many offering childhood stories of visiting for a pepperette sandwich or their "underrated" smoked meat, which is "the best in the city," according to one commenter.
Many apparent long-time customers said they wouldn't know where to go to find dishes comparable to Boucherie Slovenia's treasured menu items.
Others remarked on how yet another classic Montreal restaurant is closing its doors. "Nothing replaces these fantastic old shops," said one person. "It's a loss. The rich character of the boulevard is disappearing."
Montreal is certainly no stranger to a traffic jam, which makes taking public transit a more viable option to not only get around faster but do more good for the environment.
As Canadian cities take the initiative to improve their transit systems and reduce their carbon footprints, Montreal has become one of the country's greenest metropolitan areas when it comes to transport, according to one ranking.
A December report from Kijiji Autos analyzed green transport options in Canada's most populated cities, evaluating their use of electric cars, bikes, scooters, and the number of electric charging stations.
With its metro and bus systems, BIXI rentals, bike lanes, and availability of electric cars, Montreal found itself in third place among Canadian cities that offer the greenest transport with a score of 5.5/10.
Although Vancouver and Ottawa/Gatineau snagged the top two spots, Montreal takes the lead as the most bicycle-friendly city in all of North America, with a total of 2,163 bicycle paths, says the Copenhagenize Index.
Montreal's third-place ranking is encouraging news, said McGill University Assistant Professor of Geography, Grant McKenzie, who specifically boasted about Montreal's metro system, "especially compared to other Canadian cities," as well as its "substantial investment towards electric buses."
While McKenzie said "we can always do better" and bemoaned the city's ban on e-scooters, he called the popularity of the BIXI and the inclusion of electric bikes in its fleet an "excellent move in the right direction."
As for electric cars, Kijiji Autos looked at new registrations of electric vehicles in the first quarter of 2021, as well as total charging stations. Montreal landed second to Toronto with a total of 3,633 new registered electric cars, and 1,258 electric charging stations throughout the city.
Kijiji Autos also looked at the number of hybrids and electric vehicles for sale on their platform. Montreal led the way with 1,063 hybrid vehicles and 375 electric vehicles, states the report.
With the province of Quebec offering residents a rebate for the purchase or lease of electric cars, Quebec estimates that there will be 1.5 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.
Quebec's vaccine passport will be mandatory for more businesses in the near future. With the province reeling under the Omicron wave, Health Minister Christian Dubé made it clear at a press conference on Thursday that the vaccination passport will soon become mandatory for more unspecified "non-essential" commercial businesses.
"The vaccination passport will be mandatory as of January 18 to access the SAQ and the SQDC. Moreover, the vaccination passport will be extended to non-essential commerces in the coming weeks," said Dubé.
The health minister said that there's not yet a list of what businesses will be affected, but that health experts are reviewing the matter and will reveal the list of businesses soon.
There are several upcoming changes to the vaccination passport system that you need to be aware of. In addition to it being mandatory at the SAQ and the SQDC as of January 18, the government announced that eventually the vaccine passport will be updated to include the third dose.
"Right now, a vaccine passport is valid with two doses," said Dubé. "We haven't determined the date because we can't ask people to meet the requirements when they haven't had the chance to be vaccinated, but we will expand the vaccine passport to three doses."
Referencing the displeasure of the unvaccinated, Dubé said that "there's a very simple solution: it's to get vaccinated. It's free and it will protect you from the disease."
Women will lead five of Quebec's eight largest cities following the 2021 municipal elections.
The biggest headline of the night may have been Valérie Plante's triumph over old foe Denis Coderre in Montreal, but across the province, the faces of municipal politics have become more gender-balanced.
According to the latest counts and projections, France Bélisle (Gatineau), Catherine Fournier (Longueuil), Évelyne Beaudin (Sherbrooke) and Julie Dufour (Saguenay) are all also on their way to their respective (and figurative) city hall corner offices.
In Quebec City, it seemed for a while like Marie-Josée Savard would join them. Multiple outlets had even called the election for her until the vote count for her opponent surged into the evening. Bruno Marchand ultimately claimed victory.
Mayor Plante commented on the historic nature of her second mandate in her victory speech Sunday night.
"Four years ago, Montrealers elected the first woman mayor in the history of the City of Montreal," she said.
"Tonight, they told us again, 'yes, this mayor, we're going to continue to work with her, we trust her!'"
This year, for the first time, Montrealers will have two women leading the city, as Projet Montréal's Dominique Ollivier is set to take over as president of the Executive Committee.