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Montreal Restaurants Voice Concerns Over Dashed Terrasse Plans [Updated]

After speaking up about a denied terrasse permit online, Old Montreal restaurant owner Kevin Demers says the city has reconsidered

wooden restaurant terrasse installed in park Kevin Demers/Supplied

In Montreal, spring spells the start of Lachine Canal hangs, La Fontaine Park picnics, and evenings spent dining al fresco in a city awash with street-side terrasses. But for a small number of restaurants, the season has also brought news of infrastructure work and regulatory hurdles that could stifle outdoor dining plans.

The latest people to learn that their terrasses might not be set up as planned this summer were Kevin Demers, owner of now-defunct Victorian-style pub Parliament and forthcoming Italian spot Bella in its place, and the folks at Chez Simon Cantine Urbaine — both of whom turned to Facebook to voice their discontent.

On Monday, Demers posted a notice he received from his borough informing him that he would be unable to set up a terrasse in Place d’Youville Park again this year — as he had done in the past. The note said that a terrasse could be separated from a restaurant by a pedestrian passage, but it cannot be installed across an actual street. Demers was told he could instead extend the terrasse that’s directly in front of his restaurant westward — provided the neighbouring business consents — but the restaurateur notes in the post that that would require purchasing materials for a new structure when he already has one in storage.

“After fighting through the most difficult two years in our history, when there’s finally a glimmer of optimism on the horizon, the city comes and denies our terrasse permit just days away from terrasse season,” Demers said.

But then, on Thursday, the day after this article was initially published, Demers told Eater the city informed him that he could proceed with his original terrasse plans after all. He posted about the resolution on social media, thanking the city for “hearing our concerns and acknowledging them and acting on them.”

Meanwhile, out east, in Tétreaultville, burgers-and-more joint Chez Simon Cantine Urbaine said it wouldn’t be able to have a terrasse this summer. Per a now-deleted post published to the restaurant’s Facebook page on Monday, major roadwork being done nearby on Highway 25 and La Fontaine Tunnel has led to lane closures, rerouted streets, parking restrictions, and the suspension of the restaurant’s terrasse this summer. The city reached out to Eater Montreal after this article was published to note that the consortium responsible for the project was looking into whether adjustments could be made. Based on a photo of a terrasse posted to Chez Simon’s Instagram, it appears the issue was resolved.

Bella and Chez Simon aren’t the only restaurants concerned about terrasse plans going awry. Eater reported on similar issues last year. Just a few weeks ago, restaurateurs in Montreal’s Little Burgundy made headlines after decrying the timing of water main repairs on Notre-Dame that would delay their start to the terrasse season. They’ve since come to a compromise with the city, a compressed timeline for the work — but, of course, that depends on construction staying on track.

Update: April 14, 2021, 1:30 p.m.: This post has been updated to include information that the city has informed Demers he could set up a terrasse in Place d’Youville Park again this year; the Chez Simon situation appears to have also since been resolved.