Montreal Business Face Anti-Gentrification Attacks

  • By: mvadmin
  • Date: August 28, 2019
  • Time to read: 3 min.

Entrepreneurs at Montreal feel that a discussion on how their businesses are bringing benefits to the community is missing, and people are instead focusing on rising rents and the new shops that offer higher-priced products in what was a traditionally working-class area.

Entrepreneurs at Montreal feel that a discussion on how their businesses are bringing benefits to the community is missing, and people are instead focusing on rising rents and the new shops that offer higher-priced products in what was a traditionally working-class area.

This comes in the wake of recent attacks where masked looters vandalised a high-end grocery shop in Montreal’s St-Henri neighbourhood. The attacks were seen as a clash between the industry worker past and gentrifying present of the area.

Gentrification is a controversial topic in urban planning, which refers to shifts in an urban community lifestyle and an increasing share of wealthier residents and businesses. This could lead to increased property values and the displacing of lower-income families and small businesses in the recent past, shops and businesses that represented this new trend of gentrification have faced backlash, they have had their merchandise stolen by vandals, graffiti spray painted, and windows smashed.

The residents of the area once worked at the factories in the nearby areas, however, in the past few decades, industries have moved away to less expensive regions far away and even overseas in some cases. This led to the neighbourhood remaining relatively weakpoor with not enough jobs for everyone, rent remained low, and the area had a large percentage of people who lived in poverty.

However, as times evolved, the area saw a greater mix of more working families with children who are ready to buy things that are not available in the newer shops.

[pullquote align=”normal”]What somebody calls gentrification, somebody else calls growth and evolution[/pullquote]

“What somebody calls gentrification, somebody else calls growth and evolution,” Ryan Bloom, an entrepreneur told a news organisation recently. Bloom, who used to work for real estate development firm Live Work Learn Play in economically depressed downtown districts across the U.S. and Canada, said the term gentrification carries negative connotations.

Other entrepreneurs too echo his sentiments; new entrepreneurs are stepping up to make the area safer, they feel. The new businesses are bringing jobs to the neighbourhood, with 90 per cent of the employees being from the same area.

“We are employing the people who live in St-Henri, employing them well and giving them full-time, very good-paying jobs and no one is talking about that.” One employer said.

City councillor for St-Henri, Craig Sauvé, recently told a news organisation that while he condemns the attacks on businesses, he believes gentrification is a problem in the neighbourhood. Small businesses have been forced out of the neighbourhood as they can no longer afford the rent.

The entrepreneurs added that they are unable to debate with the anti-gentrification protesters because they don’t know who is behind it, and that no arrests have been made regarding the attacks but that they will continue running their businesses in the same way.