10/21/2013 05:40 EDT | Updated 12/21/2013 05:12 EST

Montreal mayoral candidates square off on city's economy

Members of Montreal’s business community are calling on the city's mayoral candidates to do more for the city’s struggling economy.

General manager of St-Laurent Boulevard’s merchant association, Glenn Castanheira, said the city needs to pump money into making its commercial sector more vibrant.

“Development for commercial arteries is essential to the campaign and we haven’t heard enough about it,” Castanheira said.

He said without a strategy, Montreal’s nightlife could be at risk.

“Bars, restaurants and nightclubs ... get hit with hefty fines for making too much noise,” Castanheira said. “But the law itself [was] made in the 70s and has not been adapted to today’s reality.”

Montreal’s main mayoral candidates appear to agree that Montreal’s economy needs a boost, although how that should be accomplished is up for debate. 

Projet Montréal leader Richard Bergeron said the key to the city’s economic woes is keeping families on the island.

“The reality is that year after year we lose 22,000 inhabitants that leave Montreal for the suburbs. They [take] with them $2.5 billion of investment,” Bergeron said.

He said one solution is to revamp the long-dormant housing project near Montreal’s old Hippodrome.

“It is possible to stay in Montreal to raise your children … one of the answers to this issue is Hippodrome.”

Coalition Montréal’s Marcel Côté said it all comes down to how the city is run.

“Investors and the business community at large have lost confidence in the Montreal economy ... because of all the corruption, the mismanagement, the orange cones, the high cost of taxes, and the high cost of the city.”

Côté said management needs to focus on simplifying the city’s bureaucracy and it’s decision-making processes.

Once that foundation is laid, he said, the city can focus on its best features, like higher education, research and advance manufacturing.

Denis Coderre and MélanieJoly were not available for comment.