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Économie de Montréal

Normand Hamel

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    "Un raccordement à « la ligne verte temporairement peut suffire », a-t-il dit. « Je pense qu’on peut augmenter un peu la capacité de la ligne verte. Est-ce que dans 15 ans, 20 ans, ça va être suffisant ? Probablement pas."

    Ayoye Fitz! Décevant.

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    Article du GnM 


    The lifeblood of Montreal’s downtown core used to be office workers. Now, they’re missing

    Foot traffic downtown has largely returned to pre-pandemic levels, but the number of professionals returning to the office remains small





    Michel Leblanc, head of the Montreal Chamber of Commerce, in downtown Montreal on Nov. 17.CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL





    For the past two years, Michel Leblanc was the guy in the tie trying to save downtown Montreal from pandemic-induced ruin – a fate the city centre avoided. Now comes the hard part: reviving its office culture.

    Mr. Leblanc is president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, a business group with outsized influence and a rich history of accomplishments. In its early days, merchant members organized the dredging of the St. Lawrence River so Montreal’s port could accommodate bigger ships. Later on, they pitched the creation of what is now the internationally renowned business school, École des Hautes Études Commerciales.

    So when the Quebec government opened its purse strings in March, 2021, to try to stimulate an economic recovery in Montreal’s financial centre after successive COVID-19 waves and work-from-home mandates, the Chamber of Commerce was a logical recipient of public funds. The group was handed $14.5-million to finance the effort, second only to the City of Montreal’s $22-million.

    The things Mr. Leblanc has done with the money range from predictable to imaginative, from polling business people on their intentions to organizing eye-catching, street-level art installations. But for the city centre’s white-collar professionals, work from home has become entrenched – often with the blessing of their employers. And dislodging that is proving harder than anyone might have imagined.

    “Although the entire economy of the metropolitan area has found its way back to normal, our downtown area still seems to be suffering from a kind of long COVID,” Mr. Leblanc told political and business leaders gathered last week for a forum on the health of the city centre.

    Quebec had more severe lockdowns than elsewhere in North America and that continues to have a lasting psychological impact on workers, Mr. Leblanc said in a recent interview. At the same time, many companies as well as government departments are hesitant to impose mandatory in-person attendance for their staff amid a tight labour market. The result is that, on any given day, only about half of the city centre’s estimated 300,000 white-collar workers are coming into the office.

    Mr. Leblanc has been particularly critical of the federal government for what he calls its inertia and lack of leadership in bringing its staff back to the office, which has left big buildings in the downtown core largely empty.

    “They are not in tune with the rest of the economy, the rest of the decision makers, they are much slower,” he said, referring to the federal bureaucrats making these decisions.

    In general, he said, there are differences of opinion between workers and their bosses on how hybrid work should be structured.

    “When we poll employees, they’d rather have a two- to three-day model,” he said. “When we poll employers, it’s a three- to four-day model. So we’ll see how it evolves.”

    Right now, the trends are clear for the downtown core in Canada’s second-largest city: Students are there. Tourists are back. And the area’s population is experiencing a surprising surge as more residents move in, even if the raw numbers remain small.

    All that has been great for business. Foot traffic downtown largely returned to prepandemic levels this past summer, meaning people generally are gravitating there. The statistics show a reduction in the percentage of retail and service companies that have permanently or temporarily closed since the health crisis started.

    But the lifeblood of the downtown core has for years been professionals, the people working at the banks, engineering firms and other public- and private-sector employers. The city centre is home to head offices of 24 companies with annual revenue topping $1-billion each, as well as 65 international organizations. And while their employees are dipping their toes back into their office environments, it’s not in great numbers.

    The Chamber of Commerce’s most recent surveys show 63 per cent of Montreal’s downtown workers have returned to the office one to three days a week. Fewer than half say they’re satisfied with the employee experience at the office. Traffic congestion because of roadwork is also dampening their enthusiasm.

    Their absence is having consequences, most notably on commercial real estate. The availability rate of office building space in Montreal’s downtown has roughly doubled since 2020 and now stands at 17.4 per cent, according to data from Altus Group. That number includes vacant space available now, as well as space where tenants have given their notice and do not plan to renew their leases.

    The situation could get worse before it gets better. Altus forecasts that availability rates for Class A and Class B real estate, the highest-quality buildings, could reach 29 per cent by 2027.

    Major companies such as Canadian National Railway Co., SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. and Laurentian Bank are all downsizing in the city centre as they embrace hybrid work models. For Laurentian, which is cutting the footprint of its headquarters on René Levesque Boulevard from 10 floors to five, the decision will drive employee retention and even give the lender “a competitive advantage in the war for talent,” spokesman Merick Seguin said.

    Mr. Leblanc, an economist by training, is trying to plug those holes. To help companies find takers for their surplus square footage, the Chamber of Commerce launched an online platform where they can list space they have for lease or sublease. Such arrangements might pull in new businesses that previously would not have considered the downtown core, he said.

    The Chamber of Commerce CEO and his team are also getting creative. The group curated a list of 14 projects and art installations that aim to make the city centre “a fun place to be” for workers, including The Ring – a circle sculpture several storeys high at the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec’s Place Ville Marie complex. And it launched TV and internet marketing campaigns playing up the positive aspects of working in-person.

    Brett Miller, CEO of Canadian real estate company Canderel Ltd., sees a major role for property owners and managers in rethinking what the future office tower should be as the office-home balance shakes out.

    “It’s no longer ‘Sign up a tenant, hook them into a 10-year lease and forget about them.’ It’s really much more of a service business,” he said. Mr. Miller predicts commercial landlords will offer more flexible leases and more amenities, such as bike racks and gyms. And he expects they’ll also host activities. “We’re going to be like the GOs, the ‘gentil organisateurs,’ at Club Med,” he said.

    Downtown will survive even if office vacancy explodes, said Glenn Castanheira, a business development consultant who leads the downtown merchants’ association Montréal Centre-Ville. The area has bounced back from crises before, including the corporate decampment in the wake of the 1980 sovereignty referendum, and today it has stronger educational and cultural institutions, he said.

    The biggest risk for Montreal now isn’t that the city centre hollows out but rather that its offices hollow out and commercial property values decline, Mr. Castanheira said. That’s a problem for Montreal’s municipal government in particular, which is hugely dependent on the taxes generated from downtown real estate, he said.

    Companies that have their senior staff downtown and meet their stakeholders in person will be the successful ones that drive Montreal’s city centre forward, said Mr. Leblanc. “Those who say, ‘We can manage from Mont Tremblant or Lac Memphrémagog,’ I believe those companies will lag.”

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    • 2 weeks later...

    COP15 Un coup de pouce inespéré pour le centre-ville



    On estime que près de 18 000 personnes participeront à la COP15 sur la biodiversité, à Montréal.

    Avec les 18 000 participants à la COP15 sur la biodiversité, Montréal accueille son plus gros congrès en 12 ans.

    « C’est un cadeau du père Noël », dit Manuela Goya, vice-présidente, Développement de la destination et Affaires publiques, chez Tourisme Montréal. On est contents parce que ça signifie que Montréal attire comme ville pacifique et inclusive. On en est très fiers. »

    Une telle affluence, qu’on n’a pas vue depuis le congrès mondial du club Rotary en 2010, constitue un baume pour le centre-ville de Montréal et ses hôteliers qui souffrent depuis le début de la pandémie, en février 2020.

    On dénombre 135 hôtels dans l’île de Montréal pour un total de 25 000 chambres, dont 16 000 au centre-ville.

    « L’année 2022 a mal commencé, mais elle va finir sur une très belle note », indique Mme Goya.

    Le ministre fédéral de l’Environnement et du Changement climatique, Steven Guilbeault, a gonflé les attentes dimanche en évoquant le chiffre de 17 000 participants lors de son passage à l’émission Tout le monde en parle. Mardi, les organisateurs annonçaient 18 000 personnes accréditées.

    Chez Tourisme Montréal, on travaille pour le moment sur la base de 3000 participants dans la semaine du 1er au 6 décembre et de 11 000 délégués du 7 au 19 décembre.

    L’organisme estime qu’environ 70 % des participants proviennent de l’extérieur du Québec. Sur une base de 14 000 visiteurs, les retombées touristiques s’élèvent à 85 millions, d’après Mme Goya. Dans ce calcul, on prévoit au moins 30 000 nuitées dans les établissements hôteliers montréalais.

    « En attendant les dernières réservations, les hôtels se remplissent, confirme Jean-Sébastien Boudreault, PDG de l’Association hôtelière du Grand Montréal. Pour la première semaine, il y a beaucoup de police dans les hôtels du centre-ville. »

    Que l’évènement survienne début décembre, c’est fantastique. Les premières semaines de décembre ne sont pas les plus populaires. Habituellement, on voit des activités de banquets, mais peu de nuitées. Avec la COP15, les chambres sont pleines tout en permettant aux établissements de tenir les partys de Noël prévus. C’est une belle combinaison.

    Jean-Sébastien Boudreault, PDG de l’Association hôtelière du Grand Montréal

    Rappelons que la conférence onusienne devait se dérouler en Chine, mais les frontières chinoises sont toujours fermées aux visiteurs étrangers. « Il y a quatre mois, rien de tout ça n’était au programme », rappelle M. Boudreault.

    En effet, ce n’est qu’en août dernier que Montréal a été choisi comme ville hôtesse, dit la Chambre de commerce du Montréal métropolitain (CCMM), qui souligne le travail de la ministre fédérale Mélanie Joly et du premier ministre Justin Trudeau.

    « Le gouvernement fédéral a été rapide et habile. Le milieu montréalais s’est montré agile et il y avait un alignement entre le thème de la conférence et la signature de la ville qui accueille le Secrétariat de la Convention sur la diversité biologique », dit Michel Leblanc, président et chef de la direction de la CCMM.

    Celui-ci insiste sur le caractère international de l’évènement. « Tout ce qui peut contribuer à faire en sorte que Montréal soit perçu comme une grande ville internationale est favorable, ajoute M. Leblanc. Quand vient le temps d’attirer des talents et des investissements, ça compte que les gens de l’externe se disent que Montréal est une ville où il se passe des choses. »

    Manuela Goya, de Tourisme Montréal, rêve d’un accord au terme de l’évènement. « Si jamais on peut arriver à une entente qu’on va appeler l’entente sur la biodiversité de Montréal, le nom de Montréal va être accolé à une belle entente pour la planète. C’est du rayonnement pour notre ville. »

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    Il y a 2 heures, Le Roach a dit :

    Un sixième bureau de l’ONU à Montréal

    Deux extraits de l'article:

    « Montréal a été sélectionnée en raison de ses écosystèmes de pointe en développement durable et en intelligence artificielle, de même que ses institutions académiques et son bassin d’organisations internationales », précise-t-on.

    Ce bureau vient s’ajouter à ceux de l’Organisation de l’aviation civile internationale, du Secrétariat de la convention sur la diversité biologique, de l’Agence des Nations unies pour les réfugiés, de l’Institut de statistique de l’UNESCO et du Fonds multilatéral pour l’application du Protocole de Montréal.

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