The “kingdom of pedestrians” that Valérie Plante’s administration wants to create in Old Montreal will begin to take shape this summer. As planned, the first four very busy sectors will be pedestrianized this summer, namely Place d’Armes, Place Jacques-Cartier, Rue Saint-Paul and Rue de la Commune.

This was confirmed by the City of Montreal at the start of the day on Monday, reiterating that all of Old Montreal will be “gradually secured through calming measures” by 2030.

The announcement of the vast revitalization plan for this quadrilateral, delimited by the axis of Place d’Armes and rue Saint-Antoine, Berri and de la Commune, was first mentioned last year, in May 2023 , on the occasion of the second Montreal Climate Summit. Mayor Valérie Plante then argued that Old Montreal will gradually become “the kingdom of pedestrians.”

On Rue de la Commune, Montreal wants to create a “sustainable mobility corridor” between Boulevard Saint-Laurent and Berri, like what is being prepared further north, on Boulevard Henri-Bourassa. The project would notably expand the pedestrian space while maintaining the terraces, in addition to providing for the development of a two-way cycle path on the south side of the street.

This will also be made one-way and car traffic will be severely limited. Only urban, tourist or school buses, as well as taxis, local deliveries and emergency vehicles, will have access.

As for Place Jacques-Cartier and Rue Saint-Paul, which have already been pedestrianized during the summer season for several years, they will both remain so all year round. Montreal thus hopes to preserve “a tourist attraction popular with the many visitors to these areas”.

“By placing people at the heart of public space and facilitating cohabitation with other users, this project anchors our historic district in the spirit of the times and aims for greater inclusiveness, for the benefit of all,” the head of mobility on the executive committee, Sophie Mauzerolle, argued on Monday.

Hailed by several organizations, the transformation of Old Montreal nevertheless arouses its share of local opposition. At the end of April, La Presse revealed that a survey carried out by the local Commercial Development Company (SDC) showed that 54% of the traders, residents and workers surveyed are unfavorable or very unfavorable to the Plante administration’s plan.

The vast majority of the 142 individuals surveyed by the SDC were concerned, among other things, about the “risk of congestion” and “daily operational logistics issues,” the survey indicates. However, several see a positive impact on visitors’ perception of the neighborhood (38%) and a “reduction in car-related nuisances” (37%). The survey was conducted from March 25 to April 15.

In a press release, the City argues that the road infrastructure in Old Montreal “is under heavy pressure due to through traffic,” especially since the current configuration “puts the safety of pedestrians and more vulnerable road users at risk.” The goal is therefore twofold: reduce the pressure on Old Montreal and limit through traffic.

Access to the various parking lots that can be found in Old Montreal will be maintained, the administration insisted, ensuring that “all residents’ movements” were taken into account in the process. For the future, “the next phases will continue to evolve taking into account the results of each phase,” promised the municipality, which will hold other consultations over time.

Made up of merchants, residents, cultural institutions and environmental or government organizations, the Old Montreal consultation committee was closely involved in this issue.