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Multiplication of orange cones | Montreal wants to change its practices



Difficult to navigate streets, relocated bus stops, inaccessible businesses: the proliferation of signposts continues to make life difficult for many Montrealers. Aware of the inconvenience, the Plante administration is working on a series of measures to reduce the impact of the many simultaneous construction sites.

“My bus stop has been sacrificed for building construction work for over a year,” denounces Katia Belisle. This mother of five children uses a bus stop at the corner of Beaubien and Saint-Denis streets every day to bring her youngest from daycare. “There, there is no more reason, she continues. The building is up, the workers are working inside. »

Complaints, she made some to the City of Montreal, but without success. “The stop is still blocked, it doesn’t change anything, she insists, exasperated. And winter is coming! »

These are not the only works that have complicated the life of this resident of the Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie district. Others on Papineau Avenue caused delays in his travels.

“The signs were put up everywhere at the same time in the spring, but the work was done one by one,” she notes. On Papineau, what was really frustrating was that there were orange cones that blocked an entire lane and a bus stop, while there was no work. »

“We walked in zigzags”

Montreal boroughs are all affected to varying degrees by the proliferation of orange cones. “Every time I go there, it’s a bit of hell,” laments Geneviève Lebel, a resident of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, speaking of the businesses located on rue Sainte-Catherine Est.


Work on rue Sainte-Catherine East

It was closed in the spring for major electrical work, drinking water pipes and roads in the Rue Viau sector.

There was no access, nothing was laid out, it was wooden sidewalks on which we walked in zigzags from shop to shop, from one side of the street to the other. I feel like it was one of the worst jobs.

Geneviève Lebel, resident of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve

Yves Robillard, owner of the Cabotins restaurant, located at the corner of Théodore and Sainte-Catherine Est streets, was at the forefront of this work. “Of course it made less visibility,” he admits. His participation in a consultation table on the work organized by the City of Montreal, however, helped him get through the ordeal. “The workers even gave me pieces of tram rail,” he laughs.


Yves Robillard, owner of the Cabotins restaurant, holds a piece of rail from the old tramway that passed rue Sainte-Catherine.

Modernize interventions

At the City of Montreal, we swear to do everything to minimize the inconvenience. The municipality also intends to set up this year a “new model for reporting short-term obstructions”, ie construction sites lasting less than five hours. A pilot project for an internal application to help manage street interventions — called AGIR — has already been in place since last May.

In particular, the platform allows the contractor to signal his presence on the ground, to bring in the City teams for surveillance almost immediately, which saves him from having to apply for a permit and complete the associated documents.

In eight months, 500 reports have already been made, while only two suppliers were previously authorized: the Commission des services électriques and Hydro-Québec. This year, the City intends to make the platform available to everyone.

“All these 500 reports are so many permit applications that have not been made. In this way, time can be freed up for citizens. But above all, the more in-depth knowledge we have of the interventions each day, the more we will be able to plan good mitigation measures,” says the administrative spokesperson for the City of Montreal, Philippe Sabourin.

The latter believes that a “simplification” of the processes had become necessary to mitigate the effects of the construction sites, a process that is sometimes “heavy” and “demanding” for the authorities, he admits. “In 2021, just for Ville-Marie, it’s 19,000 permits. And when we talk about all the boroughs, it’s about 90,000 permits. So we process a lot, a lot of volume,” summarizes Mr. Sabourin.

According to him, “there is a culture in the construction industry that has really evolved over the last 10 years, a kind of 180 degree turn”. “We have made several changes to the City, such as the Worksite Charter, where we adopt common practices and established rules, which prohibit, for example, intervening without reason on a bike path, or closing a sidewalk. The environment may have had less consideration for that before, but it changes a lot and for the better, ”he says.

Montreal will also hold a summit on road construction sites in 2023 to find solutions to the omnipresence of cones. “The idea is really to bring everyone together — the prime contractors, the urban technical network, building construction — to find ways to reduce the impact of construction sites on the population. We can perform better in certain places,” concludes Philippe Sabourin.

Learn more

  • 12 billion
    Value of investments over ten years only for roads and water infrastructure

    Source: Ten-year capital expenditure program (PDI) 2023-2032 of the City of Montreal

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