A two-speed heart
There is no obvious logic to compensate traders affected by the future tramway project, but not those affected by other major infrastructure projects.
C them the road to the church in Sainte-Foy, for example, but also all other major projects elsewhere in town.
For a merchant, it does not make a difference while the difficulty of access is caused by a construction site of public transport or that of the aqueduct, the sewer or the road.
Their shortfall is the same and the public works argument is the same too.
However, the City’s thinking is only about helping future “victims” of the tramway project.
The Labeaume administration did not want to explain this two-speed scheme until now.
One of the assumptions of the double standard would it be that the City thinks to compensate traders from the structuring transport budget ($ 3 billion)?
It would have nothing to pay out of pocket, unlike other infrastructure work. Easier to have your hand on your heart if the money comes from elsewhere.
However, this is pure speculation on my part, for lack of a real explanation.
The program envisioned by Quebec is reminiscent of that of Bordeaux, which is currently compensating merchants who are suffering from the construction of the tramway.
To be eligible for assistance, traders must be on the street of the yard and demonstrate a loss of turnover for at least four months.
The aid paid to Bordeaux between 2016 and 2018 averaged $ 22,000 per trade, reported the Journal de Québec this week.
Montreal has gone much further. Last fall, it became the first city in Canada to have a compensation program for merchants assigned to major projects.
Unlike Bordeaux and what Quebec plans, Montreal deals with all the victims of major projects. Not just public transit.
The Plante administration quickly took a position “in favor of small traders,” explains Mr. Robert Beaudry, a member of the Montreal Executive Committee and responsible for economic development.
She “recognizes the impact of work on businesses”. These small businesses essential to the “vitality of neighborhoods”, describes Mr. Beaudry. He is absolutely right.
The Montreal program is retroactive to January 1, 2016 and has a budget of $ 25 million by 2021.
Some forty sectors involving work lasting six months or more have already been identified (36 months in the case of work by the Société de transport de Montréal).
Nothing is planned for work carried out by third parties (Hydro-Québec, gas, etc.)
To be eligible, Montreal merchants must show a gross profit loss by filing their notices of assessment and solemn declaration.
The first 15% loss remains the responsibility of merchants, but beyond that, the City compensates up to a maximum of $ 30,000 per year.
Montreal is also encouraging shopkeepers to take advantage of work on their streets to remake their facades and other work. It offers up to $ 250,000 per building.
Some sixty requests for compensation have been received to date by the City of Montreal. That’s not enough, Mr. Beaudry agrees, but the program is not yet well known.
When I submitted to him the hypothesis that this may be a sign that the work is not so disturbing, he laughed. An orange laugh, like cones.
The work does not all have the same impact, says Beaudry, but he does not doubt that this affects street trade.
The Montreal program does not take into account the physical difficulty of accessing a business. It is sufficient for the trader to demonstrate a loss of gross profit.
Quebec refuses for the moment to discuss the criteria of its future program.
The idea circulates, however, that she is thinking of limiting it to businesses for which access would be really impossible because of the works. That remains to be seen.
It is neither realistic nor desirable to think of compensating all merchants every time a glitch lands on a street. This would explode the cost of the work (and taxes).
But it is otherwise with large-scale works that last for several months or years.
Especially in a city where small traders often feel overwhelmed by the weight of taxes. These small businesses are important components of neighborhood life and, in doing so, the quality of life in the city. It should not be forgotten.