McGill, Montreal, News, Private

Construction affects professors and businesses

Ongoing construction on McTavish and Sherbrooke Streets has been causing trouble for students and professors alike.

McGill staff and students have come up with strategies to cope with the obstructions, such as Anthropology Sessional Lecturer Karen McAllister, who created a map when students had difficulty locating her office.

“Getting to lectures was an issue sometimes, especially when they first started the construction,” McAllister said. “You just recognize that, okay, it’s going to take a bit longer, and that’s fine.”

Local businesses have not been as adaptable to restrictions of movement. Restaurants in particular have been adversely affected by the construction and claim to have generally been uninformed about the process. Pizza Navona Manager Kamalpreet Singh felt that the construction significantly reduced sales, although he pointed out that losses were somewhat offset by the construction workers themselves going for lunch.

“I think, because of the construction, not many people like to pass on this side, they either like to go through Maisonneuve or Sainte-Catherine,” Singh said. “There are a lot of other factors that dropped our sales [.…] But I can say it has affected us, and it has affected our [sales] by 30 per cent along with a number of other factors.”

Singh also expressed displeasure with the dust that the construction stirs up.

“In summer, we were unable to open our doors. We don’t have any air conditioner, but as soon as we opened these doors, dust would come flying in and sit on the tables and pizzas,” Singh said.

Pannizza Manager Erik Boulet was frustrated with the lack of communication from the City of Montreal. His recent investment into an outside patio was made obsolete with very little prior notice.

“The city allowed me to put a patio right in front and a year and a half later they chopped the sidewalk off,” Boulet said. “A couple months before they started doing the construction they came up and said, ‘yep, this is what we’re doing; you have to take down your patio.’”

Boulet expressed frustration over the loss of sales since the construction started.

“We’ve had a decrease in sales of 10 to 11 per cent,” Boulet said. “It’s probably going to get a little bit worse when they start doing the sidewalks too and I don’t even know if I will be able to have access to my commerce.”

The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), however, has unexpectedly benefited from the tearing up of McTavish Street. SSMU VP Finance Niall Carolan empathized with students, but was pleased that his earlier prediction that construction would limit foot traffic and, as a result,  food sales in SSMU turned out to be incorrect.

“While I empathize that it is an added hassle, having students re-routed through our building on the first and second floors has helped spread awareness and boost sales for our student-run operations,” Carolan said. “We are thankful [construction] has not posed any major or long-term inconveniences to our general activities.”

Furthermore, Carolan expects that the finished project will bring more potential customers to SSMU.

“I am very excited for the completion of the construction project, being the last point at the top of the walkway before the mountain should provide a great opportunity,” Carolan said. “As long as we are able to adapt our operations to be able to capitalize on the increased foot traffic, I am confident this project will benefit SSMU operations.”

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