Public pianos, self-service bikes, street food trucks ... the suburbs are drawing more and more inspiration from Montreal. This summer, several projects born in the metropolis are being launched in the surrounding suburbs. The objective is to retain the consumer-residents.
"We have plenty of nice activities, there's no reason to go elsewhere to benefit from them." It's in this manner that the mayor of Longueil wished a happy vacation to citizens at the closing of the last city council. The comments of Caroline St-Hilaire subscribe to a stronger and stronger affirmation tendency of the suburban cities toward Montreal.
This summer, no less than five municipalities launched their public pianos, inspired by the concept that has existed in Montreal since 2012. After Mascouche in 2014, Terrebonne, Brossard, Saint-Lamebert, La Prairie and Saint-Bruno inaugurated their own this summer.
"I was seduced when I happened upon one on Rue Saint-Denis," admits City Councilor Marilou Alarie.
Saint-Bruno goes even further by bringing street food trucks to the parking lot of the Promenades Shopping Center. Since the beginning of the summer, several trucks, among those that crisscross Montreal, alternate everyday.
"People have less and less of a taste for going to Montreal. Therefore, they ask for services here, locally. We should not hide it, it's not easy to get to Montreal." - Marilou Alarie, City Councilor of Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville
Starting from August, Saint-Bruno will even offer 30 free self-service bikes. The project christened "Mont-Velo" will connect the National Park of Mont-Saint-Bruno with the city center.
"We want people to consume here, it's clear. To discover our businesses, our restaurants, our outdoor seating" - Marilou Alarie, City Councilor of Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville
The bikes will not be Bixis. They will be traditional bikes donated by the population and refurbished by social reintegration youth. A similar concept christened Yellow Becik has been in existence since 2009 in Joliette. It then spread to Mascouche and Lavaltrie in 2012.
Communauto self-service cars have also been available in Laval and in the Longueil agglomeration for some years.
Professor Daniel Gill of the school of urban planning and landscape architecture at the University of Montreal believes that the suburbs are winning their wager against Montreal. "Someone who lives in the region of Terrebonne and Mascouche no longer has to go all the way across Lacal and Montreal to eat at a good restaurant and spend a pleasant evening. They have magnificent restaurants and a very nice performance hall."
Daniel Gill thinks that the suburban performance halls are "often of better quality than certain old halls that we find in Montreal," and he notes that movie theatres are less and less numerous in the metropolis.
"The suburbs are becoming more and more autonomous from the city center" - Daniel Gill, Professor at the Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture School of UdeM.
New Public Markets in the Suburbs
- Brossard, 2015
- Saint-Constant, 2015
- Varennes, 2015
- Sainte-Julie, 2014
- Saint-Bruno, 2014
- Bois-des-Filion, 2014
"The suburbs are no longer life inside the cocoon of a single-family home." Daniel Gill, Professor at the Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture School of UdeM.
According to Daniel Gill, if Montreal wants to resist the competition of the suburbs, it needs to bet on what the small cities cannot offer, like international scale events. "A hockey team, a Madonna or U2 concert, a symphonic orchestra, large museums ... only the centers can offer this," he concludes.
But Montreal must also face challenges that hurt. The owner of a clothing store in Old Montreal, mentioned in the Thursday edition of the daily The Gazette, said, in regards to incessant construction work: "Next year, I am going to open something on the Rive-Sud."
What else can the suburbs do to compete with the cities they surround? How do the suburb compete with the city in which you live? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.
Original article, originally published in French on Ici Radio-Canada, here.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.