A new terrace in Côte-des-Neiges is causing controversy in the neighborhood. Built with the aim of giving residents a place to relax, some traders in the area say it is causing more harm than good and want it removed as soon as possible.
“It’s a good idea, but not for this place, not for the street and Darlington where we are,” said Jonathan Fisher, owner of One Stop Kosher grocery store on Darlington Ave.
The terrace was installed in front of his store in early June. He says a city official told him they were considering putting headquarters there, and he voiced his opposition, but it came to light a few days later.
“I just don’t think that’s the area to put it on,” said Roula Margonis, a seamstress a few doors down who also opposes it.
There are two main problems. First, the removal of some parking spaces. Second, there is an existing concern for security.
“It became a safety and security issue,” Fisher said. “People hang out, especially at night, drink, smoke, sell stuff.”
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“My mother has to come in the morning to clean the whole window of cigarettes and beer bottles just to come in to open the store. We fear it will make it worse,” Margonis said.
Four traders gathered on Thursday to demand that the terrace be moved elsewhere.
Fisher also showed Global News a petition with pages and pages of signatories who agree.
“For people to be so upset and come to the media, it means there really is a problem in the neighborhood,” said district councilor Stephanie Valenzuela.
The borough mayor explained that the intention was to bring something beautiful to a low-income neighborhood.
“These kind of placottoirs don’t only belong to the wealthiest neighborhoods,” Gracia Kasoki Katahwa told Global News.
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She also said work was underway to assuage merchant security concerns.
“We work with community organizations and we work with local police to make sure we maintain harmony,” Katahwa said.
However, traders said there had been no changes in recent weeks.
“We need to be aware of what is really happening in our region before adding measures that can amplify or worsen the situation,” she said.
Fisher said parents were afraid to send children to pick up groceries from his store.
“We had people hanging around and kids being scared to come to the store to buy stuff,” Fisher said.
The mayor says the terrace will remain for at least a few months as a pilot project. She will meet with traders to discuss their concerns next week.