07/13/2014 11:17 EDT | Updated 09/12/2014 05:59 EDT

Construction to revamp Ste-Catherine St. worries merchants

This weekend’s sidewalk sale on Ste-Catherine Street is a welcome opportunity for shops and vendors on the busy stretch in downtown Montreal to sell their wares and make a few extra bucks.

It's the 17th annual sidewalk sale, an event that usually attracts up to 300,000 people. 

But that sight of thousands of people milling around will be sorely missed by merchants once construction on Ste-Catherine begins in 2016. 

In June, Mayor Denis Coderre announced that he wanted to take the opportunity of massive underground infrastructure work to re-imagine and revitalize Ste-Catherine Street.

“We have to renew all the infrastructure, but I think Ste-Catherine deserves more than just to change a pipe,” Coderre said at the time.

This was unwelcome news to the shops that line the busy street. They are worried at least two years of work could lead to store closures.

“It’s a pretty big concern. I mean, every day costs you so much, you know. You need to sell to be able to pay those expenses, to be profitable,” said Sheldon Cohen of Layton Audio near the corner of Ste-Catherine and Peel streets.

Ideas for a better Ste-Catherine

The Ste-Catherine West Project was launched by the city this summer to encourage Montrealers to share their ideas for Ste-Catherine's makeover.

Some people out at the sidewalk sale shared their ideas and thoughts with CBC News.

The façades on some buildings could use a facelift, said one shopper.

Another shopper said it could be a good idea to pedestrianize Ste-Catherine Street on more weekends during the warmer seasons.

Montrealers will have until December to submit their ideas for the $80-million plan.

Learning from St-Laurent work

Cohen from Layton Audio said he hopes the city would have learned some lessons from construction work on St-Laurent Boulevard in 2007 that saw many small business close their doors.

The work, set to begin in 2016, will affect Sainte-Catherine Street between Bleury Street and Atwater Avenue.

The work will be done in two phases. Sainte-Catherine Street between Bleury and Mansfield — including Phillips Square — will be done first. Once that’s complete, the revamping between Mansfield and Atwater Avenue will take place.