Two management employees of the Montreal Fire Safety Service (SIM), including a section leader, were suspended after the closure of terraces on Peel Street on Friday evening, in the middle of the Grand Prix weekend. An administrative investigation was also opened to shed light on this matter.

This was confirmed by several well-informed sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly, at the end of the day. Earlier Monday, the president of the executive council of the City of Montreal and responsible for economic development, Luc Rabouin, had only mentioned one suspension during a press briefing, after a meeting with merchants on Peel Street.

“The management [of the SIM] decided to carry out an internal administrative investigation [Monday morning] into what happened. Management has decided to suspend an employee,” he announced, without elaborating further.

This is a first disciplinary gesture since Friday evening, when SIM employees forced the closure of the terraces on Rue Peel, in the middle of the Grand Prix weekend, the busiest period of the year. They argued in particular that the distance between the businesses and the marquees – which allowed the terraces to remain open despite the rainy weather – was not compliant.

“It’s a shock for traders and their customers. The image of Montreal has been damaged,” maintained Mr. Rabouin this Monday. The day before, the mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante, said she was “sorry” that this intervention had led to “chaos on Peel Street”, ensuring that a post-mortem would be held. This was indeed done late Monday morning.

At this stage, neither the City of Montreal nor the SIM are able to determine the circumstances and steps that led to the closure of the terraces. “I’m not able to draw any conclusions [beyond] ‘something serious happened,'” Mr. Rabouin said.

A few hours earlier, the elected official met with the restaurateurs on Rue Peel and asked them for 24 hours to carry out the necessary checks for the reinstallation of the marquees. After this delay, the City will have had “all the discussions” to determine what must be arranged – “perhaps differently”, he admits – so that the return of the marquees can be done “in a safe manner”.

“We agree that if there was a suspension, there was a mistake,” responded Julien Hénault-Ratelle, city councilor and opposition spokesperson for economic development. . His party, Ensemble Montréal, is also asking that an analysis of what happened Friday evening “be done publicly” at the city council.