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The Alliance for downtown Montreal will illuminate the heart of the city

As part of the financial support granted by the Government of Québec for the Montreal, Montréal centre-ville is devoting $3 million to an ambitious plan to illuminate the city center. Not only will this initiative increase foot traffic throughout downtown, but it will bolster its international reputation as a northern metropolis.

downtown Montreal

Mr. Glenn Castanheira, Executive director of Montréal centre-ville, made the announcement during a press conference featuring the Minister of Economy and Innovation and Minister responsible for Regional Economic Development, Mr. Pierre Fitzgibbon, the Minister for Transport and Minister responsible for the Metropolis and the Montréal Region, Ms. Chantal Rouleau, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Member of Parliament for Laurier-Sainte-Marie, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, the head of economic and commercial development, knowledge, innovation and design on the executive committee of the City of Montreal, Mr. Luc Rabouin, and several stakeholders involved in downtown development.

The illumination plan is divided into three flagship projects, all with the main objective of making the downtown a world-class four-season destination by offering a stimulating and safe environment for workers and visitors alike.

  • The transformation of 696 Sainte-Catherine Ouest into an open-air art gallery that will, as of this year, offer an illuminated, 4-season exhibit experience. Located in the very heart of Canada's largest commercial artery, it will be created in collaboration with Alexandre Berthiaume, designer of the OXY gallery;

  • The deployment of light installations throughout the winter season in order to create illuminated itineraries highlighting downtown's unique architectural heritage, public squares and shops;

  • The illumination of strategic and heritage buildings, in collaboration with the Partenariat du Quartier des Spectacles.

The mobilization continues

Multiple initiatives resulting from bridge-building between public, cultural and economic actors have enabled the city center to hold its own despite the critical pandemic context. In order to keep up this momentum, Montréal centre-ville has created an Alliance aimed at crystallizing this mobilization.

As part of the Alliance for downtown Montreal's illumination mandate, a first steering committee will bring together the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership, the City of Montréal and other experts to speak about lighting.

Four other steering committees will also take shape and bring together some forty partners active in the economic, cultural and social development of downtown Montreal. From bolstering the reputation of downtown Montreal and its head offices, to commercial and real estate development, their role will be to share information, propose solutions and facilitate the deployment of concrete initiatives that will revitalize the city center, including:

  • The mutualisation of off-street parking;

  • The embellishment of downtown's alleyways;

  • The improvement of visitor experience;

  • The improvement of cleanliness and sense of security in the downtown area;

  • The participation of property owners and managers in downtown's programming and promotion;

  • The visibility of head offices.

The work of the steering committees will be overseen by a standing committee that includes various levels of government, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM), the Urban development institute of Quéebc (UDI), the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Montreal (JCCM), the Palais des congrès de Montréal, the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership (PQDS), Tourisme Montréal and McGill University.

Powerful data on the state of downtown

To have a clear, real-time understanding of the health of the downtown ecosystem, Montréal centre-ville has also sought out the expertise of the Urban Development Institute of Québec (UDI) for the production of a special edition of the City Center Report, allowing the Alliance to take an evidence-based approach to prioritizing and adjusting its actions.

Study Highlights

  • Standing out as a strong indication of renewed activity downtown is Ste-Catherine Street's foot traffic, which saw a 62% increase compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, as of May 2022, only 19% of businesses located within downtown shopping malls were closed, representing a 44% drop compared to the 3rd quarter of 2021.

  • While the office availability rates are higher than before the pandemic, the deterioration has been far less pronounced downtown than in other metropolitan cities like Toronto and Vancouver. Between 2019 and 2022, the variation in office availabilities was:

  • 233% in Vancouver

  • 219% Toronto

  • 46% in Montreal

  • Downtown's vibrancy is reflected by its current demographic explosion, with 40% growth between 2016 and 2021. This newly emerging population, which energizes and densifies the downtown core, is mainly (53%) composed of young people ages 20 to 34 .

"We note a return of workers to the office within the parameters of an ever-clearer hybrid framework. The real estate market is dynamic, business frequentation is increasing and there are more and more users of public transit. We're even expecting the return of tourists this summer. There is a lot of hope in the new City Center Report, but some concerns remain, including the high office availability rates."

  • Jean-Marc Fournier, President and CEO of the Urban Development Institute of Quebec (UDI)

Related link:

Consult the full press kit, which includes the special edition of the City Center Report, on the Alliance for downtown Montreal website (FR only).


"The concerted work of downtown's key stakeholders over the past two years is bearing fruit, but we need to keep up the pace. With today's announcement and the significant mobilization of several leaders in economic, cultural and academic sectors, we have demonstrated that there is a real desire to continue on this promising path of collaboration. This Alliance will be an important asset in our mission to continue elevating and promoting downtown – and by extension, all of Quebec – well beyond the pandemic."

  • Glenn Castanheira, Executive Director of Montréal centre-ville

"The initiative launched today will help the metropolis shine, but above all, will bring citizens and visitors back downtown. The programming planned for this summer will give us every chance to rediscover the dynamic energy that has always made the heart of the city beat."

  • Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy and Innovation and Minister responsible for Regional Economic Development

"Downtown Montreal is in good health, thanks in part to its diversity and to the mobilization of stakeholders from all areas. Our government was there to give this consultation all of the necessary impetus. We have offered significant financial support and supported various initiatives. Today, an additional gesture is being made to ensure the vitality of our downtown core. I salute the strong leadership of all the stakeholders who have come together to make sure our downtown remains the beating heart of Quebec and the."

  • Chantal Rouleau, Minister for Transport and Minister responsible for Greater Montréal and the Montreal region

"Our government is a partner in the revitalization of downtown Montreal, as evidenced by the recent investments made under the Canadian Community Revitalization Fund (CCRF) of Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions. Thanks to this support, new public space development and greening initiatives will help make downtown Montreal a neighborhood as dynamic as it is resilient. The Alliance's announcement fully reflects our desire to pursue this commitment."

  • The Honorable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Member of Parliament for Laurier-Sainte-Marie

"Over the past two years, the City of Montreal has played a role in concerting, planning and implementing initiatives to help downtown and its stakeholders get through the health crisis. As the metropolis benefits from a robust recovery and as consultation activities on our Downtown Strategy open tomorrow at the OCPM, the city is happy to be able to count on a dynamic and tight-knit ecosystem. We are delighted with the new Alliance for downtown Montreal, which will allow us to continue the work we've collectively begun and safeguard downtown's vitality for years to come. This Alliance is another sign that Montreal is not only doing well, but is gaining strength every day!"

  • Luc Rabouin, responsible for economic and commercial development, knowledge, innovation and design on the executive committee of the City of Montreal

"The Alliance for downtown Montreal is the culmination of several years of collaboration and mutual aid that we developed with other key stakeholders, including Montréal centre-ville and government institutions, to bolster the vitality of downtown. The Partnership is very pleased to join the Alliance and to share its expertise in architectural lighting, among other things, to continue developing downtown and the metropolis into a dynamic and unique cultural, economic and tourist hub – no matter the season."

  • Monique Simard, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership

"The Chamber of Commerce is pleased to contribute to the work of the Alliance, in collaboration with the organizations and companies involved in downtown's revival. I salute the leadership of Minister Fitzgibbon and the commitment of other stakeholders who are mobilizing to strengthen downtown's economy. The Chamber will continue its actions to promote the return of workers to the sector and will deploy new creative projects to embellish private and semi-private spaces. To this end, the city center lighting strategy announced today is excellent news to enhance its attractiveness."

  • Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

"After the last few years over which Montreal truly demonstrated its resilience, the time has come to make it shine again! This will necessarily happen through a process of responsible and sustainable beautification that will make downtown more pleasant for both the inhabitants and the visitors of our metropolis. Within the context of this initiative of great importance for Montreal, the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Montreal is delighted to be part of the permanent committee that will oversee the working committees."

  • Marie-Krystine Longpré, Executive Director of the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Montreal

"To create a city with a vibrant heart: that is the will of every stakeholder united in this new Alliance for downtown Montreal, of which we are extremely proud and happy to be a part. The Palais des congrès, in its role as an institution at the heart of various symbolic neighborhoods within the metropolis, aims to be a crossroads where creativity, the arts and scientific innovation come together. It is together that we will make our city shine in all its splendour."

  • Emmanuelle Legault, President and CEO of the Palais des congrès de Montréal

"Alone we go faster, together we go further. In the case of the Alliance, I am convinced that we will go fast and far because we are already used to working together, for the good of Montreal. Tourisme Montréal intervenes in the public space not only to develop an appealing product for tourists, but also for the Montrealers who, through their spirit of openness and their great hospitality, represent one of the city's most important assets and a crucial element in our ability to draw people from around the globe. A healthy and radiant downtown is an absolute priority for rebuilding sustainable, prosperous tourism for all."

  • Yves Lalumière, President and CEO of Tourisme Montréal

"Montreal's higher education institutions contribute to its vitality and its influence around the world. The academic community is eager to collaborate with the Alliance in order to revitalize its downtown area. We are delighted with today's announcement, which will make it possible to highlight downtown's strengths, and we thank and congratulate the partners of the Alliance for their commitment to making Montreal an even more dynamic, inviting and prosperous city."

  • Suzanne Fortier, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University

"Futil design is proud to collaborate with the SDC Montréal centre-ville and to present the brand new OXY gallery! It is an honor for us to occupy this iconic space on Sainte-Catherine and to be able to offer an extraordinary visual experience while also installing an area dedicated to culture 12 months a year!"

  • Alexandre Berthiaume, public art curator and designer of the OXY!

About Montréal centre-ville

Founded in 1999, Montréal centre-ville is the Merchant association (SDC) of downtown Montreal, a non-profit organization that brings together nearly 5,000 businesses located between Atwater Avenue and rue Saint-Urbain, and between rue Sherbrooke and rue Saint-Antoine. It is the largest organization of its kind in Canada.

The Alliance for downtown Montreal is an initiative of Montreal centre-ville, made possible thanks to the $3.5 million of financial support allocated to it by the Ministry of Economy and Innovation in order to support initiatives aimed at revitalizing the territory.

SOURCE Montréal Centre-Ville

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