Coderre is right to focus on the revival of downtown Montreal


As Denis Coderre embarks upon his campaign to return as Mayor of Montreal next November, he has stumbled out of the block.

Let me state that I am a Coderre fan. I want to see him back in office. He says he is a new man and after losing over 100 pounds, relocating to Old Montreal from Montreal North, one would have to agree with that. There have been mea culpas for some his past moves as mayor. Then he gets caught seemingly texting while driving. It took two days for him to respond to media inquiries and when he did, it was too defensive. Instead of the story going away, it gained ground. Then he proposed banning alcohol in parks after 8 pm. That did not go over well so he backtracked.

I have to imagine that Coderre has a good team of advisors on his side. Is he listening to them? In my day job I have been advising people in high positions for decades. When they follow my strategic counselling, things usually go well. But there have been times when some have not and that is when things go sideways.

Coderre leads Mayor Valerie Plante in the polls, but his latest actions could put a dent in that.

It is time for Coderre to challenge Plante on her real Achilles heal: the downfall of downtown Montreal. It is already a central part of his program. Well before the pandemic, her anti-car crusade made downtown such an impossible place to find a parking place, it was already becoming unattractive. If I had a choice to see a movie at the Scotiabank Theatre or Cinemas Guzzo in St. Laurent, I chose the latter.

Last Saturday morning I went downtown to run some errands and I noticed that Plante had once again closed St .Catherine Street to traffic from Guy East on the weekends. As our editor Beryl Wajsman commented on social media, “This really helps to revive business. We’re told by city spokespeople that the Chambre de Commerce asked for this. If true ,we’re going to find out its angle. I’ve spoken to 23 merchants today and none want this.”

That afternoon we needed to go the Apple Store and the natural reflex was to go downtown. “No way!” I said. “Check Fairview Pointe Claire.”

And off we went to the West Island. It was seamless. That night my friend Ted Dranias, owner of the Petros Taverna restaurants, called to tell me he came face to face with Mayor Plante that afternoon. Where was she? At La Pizzeria NO.900 on Monkland Avenue in NDG. So even she seemed to be avoiding downtown.

When Coderre was the mayor he put Montreal on the map internationally. I do believe he is the person who can best bring downtown back to its glory days. This is his time to shine.