The city of Montreal has, as of February 16, received more snow than all of last year. A big chunk of that fell over the last week or so. Montreal has always prided itself on our world-leading snow removal efforts. Our skills at speedily clearing and hauling away snow have brought officials from other cities to see how it is done.
Perhaps the lack of snow over the past few winters has us out of practice, but this year there is abundant complaining in several city boroughs with at least one contractor being fired.
This problem is seasonal and can be easily remedied, but a more serious situation exists that is costing several restaurants dearly. Last weekend my wife and I went out to dinner. We had decided on a Mexican place called Mesa 14 that neither of us had ever been to even if it has been around, under a couple of names, for 25 years.
Mesa 14 is located in downtown Montreal on a block of Bishop Street, a main cross-street that is currently under construction. The city is installing a new cooling station for the metro system. The process will take over three years to complete – yep, over three years, 42 months to be precise. It took five years to complete the first version of the metro in the early sixties, but this one cooling station alone is going to take almost that long.
This has required the east side of Bishop Street to be blocked-off and huge construction hoardings placed along the length of the construction site essentially hiding buildings on that side of the street. Businesses on the west side of the street are only inconvenienced by a whole lot of lost parking spaces in a city already short on that commodity.
Let me point out that I am not a food critic, but the meal and service we received were both excellent. Sadly on a Saturday night in Montreal – a home hockey Saturday night at that – the restaurant had just a handful of tables in use.
If we accept that there really is no alternative to the long presence of the work-site, it seems to me the city should focus on making it as easy as possible under the circumstances to get to these restaurants. This is part of the problem; we had intended to go to Mesa 14 and I knew there was a construction project underway, yet even so when we attempted to follow the small sign to the restaurant we found that we had to backtrack, cross the street, walk up the block and enter from the other end. I imagine potential patrons not as determined as we were may well have blown-off Mesa 14 and gone to one of the many other restaurants and bars in the area. When your customers have to work to get to your front door, it does not augur well for business.
The city needs to vastly improve the signage so that it not only clearly indicates that these establishments are open for business, but also how, under the circumstances, to best gain access to them.
Until that happens you will have to take my word for it that Mesa 14 is well worth the effort!