The Jean-Talon Market has implemented new temporary measures to entice more shoppers as summer winds down and harvest season begins, but some merchants say they don’t go far enough.
The market, located in Montreal’s Little Italy neighbourhood, is offering free parking for the first 35 minutes for its 325 spots. The offer, in place until Sept. 20, is meant to draw customers who drive and buy fresh produce in bulk.
As part of the plan, the two alleys bordering the market are open to traffic Mondays to Wednesdays for clients travelling by car. They are closed to vehicles from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Thursday to Sunday.
“It’s a promotion we’re doing for a month to make sure people can come and enjoy harvest time,” said Nicolas Fabien-Ouellet, interim director general of Montreal’s Public Markets.
The measures will also help during the COVID-19 pandemic, which Fabien-Ouellet said has had an effect on the market, but he stressed they were primarily implemented to accommodate an increase of customers during a busy time.
Benoit St-Jacques, who works at Jardins Sauvages, said he’s sure the plan will help but he hasn’t noticed a difference yet. Allowing cars to access the small streets bordering the market should be permitted for longer periods of time, he said, adding:
“It should be like that seven days a week.”
St-Jacques applauded waiving parking fees for the first 35 minutes, saying customers have complained all year long about the costs.
Joe Romito, owner of Marché Tania, welcomed the decision to give free parking for the first half-hour but he thinks more could be done to help merchants and customers.
He said opening the alleyways to car traffic on the weekend would have been helpful, since that is when the market is booming with customers from outside of the city.
“They open it up (the two alleys) on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,” he said. “For who? There is nobody here. They can actually leave it closed.”
As harvest season gets underway, Fabien-Ouellet said a promotional plan is in the works for the coming weeks to entice more shoppers and promote the local market.
“It will be in the papers, in social media but also with some posters around the city,” he said. “So we’re doing all this promotion as we always do.”
Jean-Talon Market woes
— With files from Global News’ Phil Carpenter
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