Security barriers, heavy police presence, obstacles, demonstrations: the arrival of COP15, which will be held from December 7 to 19 in Montreal, is forcing many merchants to prepare for the worst. In the heart of the perimeter, a childcare center (CPE) does not hide its concerns for the safety of children, whose playground could well find itself in the heart of the action.
“We are all worried. It’s still major, what’s coming, ”says Sylvie Chabot, general manager of the CPE Le Petit Palais. She is making calls these days for security around her premises. “My mandate is to ensure the health and safety of children,” she slips.
Neighboring the Palais des Congrès, rue Viger, the establishment welcomes dozens of children every day. With the arrival of COP15, thousands of delegates, but above all possible demonstrations, Mme Chabot says she has been contacted in the past few days by several concerned parents.
Met at her premises on Monday, the manager was just waiting for a meeting with the police on this subject. His group notably requested the help of the Ministry of the Family in its efforts. “My main request is to have an evacuation plan, which is currently in the Palais des Congrès. Except that there, we will not have access to it. It’s a challenge for us,” she says.
We learn everything bit by bit, we don’t yet know how big it’s going to be. […] If we had had a plan two months before, the time for people to get organized, maybe we would have had time to find temporary premises.
Sylvie Chabot, director of the CPE Le Petit Palais
Several obstacles are planned in the coming weeks. Large fences will cut off one lane of traffic in each of the streets surrounding the meeting place, including the Viger, Saint-Urbain, Saint-Antoine axes, as well as Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle. The Place-d’Armes metro station will also be closed from 1er to December 20 “for security reasons”. Anti-capitalist and environmental demonstrations are planned between December 7 and 10. Thousands of students have given themselves a strike mandate, judging that the COPs “aim to make us believe that our elected officials have their hands on the wheel, when they are making no effort”.
One congress, two realities
At the corner of Saint-Antoine and Saint-Urbain streets, the owner of the restaurant La Popessa, Michel Bourdages, fears that he will have “much fewer customers” during COP15. “It’s a month without customers for us. The congressmen, I don’t think they’re going to come here. We are part of the Palais des Congrès, but we are not even announced inside. People don’t see us, don’t know we exist, ”continues the businessman, even as a Royal Canadian Mounted Police car parks in front of his business.
I don’t know if we’ll be able to get through it.
Michel Bourdages, owner of the restaurant La Popessa
Since Monday, the police have asked him to close access to his business on rue Saint-Antoine, as a security measure. “We would have liked to have a little more access, that rue Saint-Antoine be open at least for delegates, but not for motorists,” sighs Mr. Bourdages, who claims to be the big loser of the congress.
Its reality contrasts with that of Kyo, a modern Japanese bar which, on the contrary, plans to be “busier during COP15”, confides its manager, Édouard Guilmette. “The Palais des congrès will be quite full, and it will take place during the day, so we expect more traffic, especially from conventioneers,” he says.
“We are the only Japanese restaurant in Old Montreal. It’s high end, but it’s not overly expensive, so that sure helps. For the rest, we have a lot more tourists, but still also a lot of regulars who come by car, ”he continues.
The hotel “ready for any eventuality”
Not far from there, the general manager of the InterContinental hotel, Martin Leclerc, claims to have participated “actively” in the discussions concerning security during COP15. “It’s going to be very busy here, with the vast majority of it being related to COP15. That said, we also remain open for our customers and people who want to continue to travel, ”says the manager.
“We have contingency plans in place, but this is nothing new for us. These plans exist for us 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. This is not the first time that we would potentially have contingencies to activate. We are ready for any eventuality, ”he adds, referring to the overflows that could occur during demonstrations.
To the authorities, Mr. Leclerc also assures to offer his full cooperation during the congress. “We are delighted to have this conference in November and December when in general, it’s a period that is slower,” he concludes on this subject.
An idea of the expenses for the SPVM
It’s not just delegates who will be staying en masse in Montreal hotels during COP15. The Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) is indeed spending considerable sums these days to house its patrollers, but also to rent spaces and vehicles.
Throughout the duration of the convention, the Montreal police plan to rent about twenty rooms in a downtown hotel, in order to house its troops and hold “police activities”. The SPVM will pay close to $84,000 for this first expense alone.
A sum of $100,000 will also go to the rental for two weeks of a large common room to hold “group meals, gatherings”, but also to offer rest to the police and to store equipment.
These public contracts, which can be viewed online, also show that the Montreal police plan to spend approximately $80,000 on “temporary locker rentals”, in addition to approximately $68,000 to obtain additional vehicles between November 25 and November 21. next December. Four minibuses, which can accommodate more than twenty passengers each, will also be rented by the police.
Approximately $50,000 will also go towards the “installation and removal” of a temporary SPVM station downtown, which will be located near the Palais des Congrès, the site of the many meetings to be held during COP15. Note: costs of $25,000 will also be incurred due to the acquisition of a specialized drone to carry out constant aerial surveillance.
All of these expenses obviously exclude the other substantial costs already generated by COP15 for the SPVM, particularly in terms of training its employees, additional staff and increased security downtown.
With the collaboration of William Leclerc, The Press