Tents on Peel terraces reinstalled as merchants of upcoming Montreal festival forced to buy new tents

“Finally, they decide to have back the terraces," says Alain Creton, owner of Chez Alexandre, as tents were reinstalled Tuesday on Montreal's Peel Street terraces, a week and a half after the fiasco on Grand Prix weekend. Alyssia Rubertucci reports.

Tents on restaurant terraces are back on Montreal’s Peel street, a week and a half after they were the center of a shut down by Montreal’s fire department during the busy Grand Prix weekend.

Fire safety inspectors took issue with the distance of the tents from the building’s entrances and forced them to shut down on June 7 amid a busy Friday night and reopen the next day without the tents.

Last week, Mayor Valérie Plante gave them the green light to be reinstalled and is helping them respect the three-metre rule by removing parking spots. On Tuesday, despite the heat wave, the terraces were in action.

“Finally, they decide to have back the terrace the way we asked them at the beginning and we are all pleased now,” says Alain Creton, owne of Chez Alexandre and the president of the Peel Street Merchants’ Association. “We lose a lot of money because this special group of the Fire Department asked us to close the place. It was terrible.”

Two fire safety workers with the SIM involved in the inspections of the terraces on Peel Street were suspended pending an internal administrative investigation.

“People are going to look at it more closer,” Creton said. “Now, here we are back, like we asked before, the special authorization, but at the beginning they didn’t want to give us the authorization.”

This comes as merchants of an upcoming Montreal festival in August say they were asked to add fire proof tents or face a fine of $2,000.

“I bought a tent for that last year and now I need to buy a second tent for the coming event,” said Francis Lachance, co-president, Savons Paddhawan Suds.

Lachance said his business does fairly well in sales, but it depends on the weekend market.

“Sometimes we go and we make $500 for the weekend, and we are lucky. some people just sell $250 for the weekend because they pay $50 for a table,” he said. “For the summer market, I think it’s going to kill a lot of stores.”

“We have the special license to it’s 100 per cent fireproof, now, they decide to go all over Montreal and make sure all the tents are fireproof,” said Creton. “It’s too late. Why don’t they do that before that? One year before, tell them, ‘next year, everything has to be in order.'”

Savons Paddhawan Suds booth at La Grande Fabrique festival in Montreal in August 2023. (Savons Paddhawan Suds, Instagram)

Lachance said the organizers of La Grande Fabrique, an annual event that brings together more than a hundred local artisans in the Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough, contacted them last week saying they met with the Montreal Fire Department, known as the SIM, and are asking participants to ensure compliance of fire safety regulations.

Lachance’s fire resistant tent does not meet all of the specifications that the SIM is asking for in a fire proof tent.

“I did maybe 15 to 20 markets so far, it’s been three years we had that we had that business, two years of full-time markets during the weekend, I never saw a tent caught on fire in my life,” he said.

In a statement, the SIM told CityNews that there was non-compliance with some tents at the recent Mural Festival, but no offences were reported and the tents were tolerated.

The SIM tell CityNews that they support commercial development companies and the parties involved in several boroughs in order to find solutions to ensure security for future events. “The SIM also supports merchants in achieving a return to compliance and compliance with regulations.”

Lachance says one of his friends had issues during Grand Prix weekend with inspectors as well.

“I feel for the people that I met in the last two years,” he said. “I don’t think we are the company that had the biggest hit, but I think it’s very unfair to them.”

Lachance is now left with no choice but to fork over $400 for a new tent.

“Because I do have a market coming in next weekend in Montreal, it’s going to be an outside market, so I don’t want to have the fine of $2,000 so I’m going to have my my tent ready for La Grande Fabrique as well, but I’m just going to go outside of Montreal for the summer.”

“I hope this special department will be more in solution instead of [fining], let’s find a solution together,” said Creton.

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