The lack of a clear vision for downtown and paid parking is driving retailers to question their future on Wellington Street North. The former president of the Downtown Business Association Jean-François Bédard could, among other things, move his Glori.us store.
The Dermapure aesthetic clinic could also change its address.
“There is no vision of the city for our downtown. If she has one, she has a bad way of selling it to us. Wellington Street South is like Vietnam. The walk in (customers who enter the store in passing) has already been better. The only things that open are restaurants, “laments Jean-François Bédard.
There are so few clients, according to him, who go to the city center specifically to shop. “Saturday, before 1 pm, there is not much going on. People stop only before going to the restaurant. ”
Mr. Bédard, tenant of his local, has nevertheless renewed his lease for a year. “Normally, I sign for five years. But everywhere else, developers are investing. This is the case at the Carrefour de l’Estrie and Promenades King. Here, apart from new flower boxes, there is nothing. ”
Without attributing all the fault to paid parking, Jean-François Bédard still sees a problem. “We have the mobile application, but access to parking is poorly indicated. When someone comes from Mégantic or Victoriaville, it’s a puzzle. The works of the Grandes-Fourches bridge will be super interesting and will improve the city center … in three years. Three years is a long time for a business. ”
He also reports that he spends at least $ 100 a month to pay for parking for his clients.
Mr. Bédard assures that he must think about the possibility of moving. “I’m still in love with downtown, but from a business point of view, does my client still come to downtown? I have a delivery service and people prefer that I go to see them rather than go downtown. The story of Well Inc., I still have it wrong in the throat. If the project had worked, I would probably have bought a building. ”
The trader assures that his reflection is real and that his public release is not only intended to provoke. “Good if it can wake people up a bit. But my company has a good growth and we are only five starts of businesses to back. If the living environment does not go as fast as my business, we have a problem. Leaving would not hurt my sales, but I have to wonder if it would increase it. ”
The businessman gives himself a few months to make a decision and to see the directions that will be given by the City.
For her part, Marilyne Gagné, President of Dermapure, would certainly move if she did not have plans for expansion elsewhere in the country. But he would have to decide on the future of his building at 49 Wellington Street North.
“There is no free parking nearby. If I were in a complex like the one in April, I’m sure my turnover would increase by half a million. I think we need to open more restaurants downtown. We try to animate the street, but we do not give permits for a wine bar, for example, “she says.
Citing the opening of the Boefish, Westley and Pizzéria 900, Ms. Gagné believes that the center of activities moves to the west.
“When I go to Westley, parking does not cost me anything. Here, when a customer has a ticket because he has exceeded his parking time, we are the ones who pay. It happens about four times a month. If I had only Sherbrooke to manage, I would move. Yet, I receive about thirty patients a day and I have 25 employees who could consume downtown. ”
Ms. Gagné does not set a timetable before making a decision.
This is the loss of momentum created by the Well Inc. project. which drives retailers to think about their future, believes Alexandre Hurtubise, president of the Downtown Business Association. A momentum that will return in the medium term, according to him.
“When a major project is submitted, we may be more ready to wait because we see the light at the end of the tunnel. But the light will come back and there will be new parking spots downtown, “says Hurtubise.
In the same vein, the downtown players will find a privileged communication with the City through the creation of a committee that will meet Thursday the revitalization committee downtown. They hope to see an advancement in the downtown revitalization project over the next 45 days.
“Everyone agrees that there is not enough parking, but new spaces will not be built overnight. ”
Alexandre Hurtubise, director general of the Maison du Cinéma, says that his business will not be able to do without the places that will be cut off when the new Grandes-Fourches bridge is built and that the street of the same name will take a new route. . Talks are underway with the City and the Business Association will ensure that the schedule of work and mitigation measures are known to all traders to limit the impact of the work in due time.
“Otherwise, there are small irritants that are easy to adjust. The application to pay for parking can be very useful. It could be improved to say how many spaces are available and where they are. All businesses can not have their own places, but we can improve the way to get to the parking lots. ”
Mr. Hurtubise regrets, however, that technology now allows to issue statements of offense much faster than before. “We are hearing more and more stories where the parking lot had been running for only a few minutes and the client had a ticket. It certainly does not help the customer experience.
“Obviously, for the moment, patience is required, as in the past. In my vision, there must be a direction within a year. I absolutely do not want to lose businesses like Glori.us or Dermapure. We need to find the fiber, the enthusiasm we had with Well Inc., and I think it’s possible in the medium term. I see a very interesting future for the downtown area. ”