“Traffic maintenance” requirements, maximum delay of 12 hours to install and dismantle signage, increase in tickets: Montreal is raising its voice to better manage work zones. Ready to “collaborate”, however, the construction industry calls for caution and dialogue.

“It’s not so much the construction sites as such, the problem, but everything that surrounds them: the cones, the obstacles, the communication with the partners”, launched from the outset the mayor Valérie Plante, as a curtain raiser. of the Summit on construction sites, Thursday.

His administration says it will “from now on require a traffic maintenance plan as a condition of obtaining a priority arterial permit.” This plan presented by the contractors will have to “clearly specify where traffic is blocked, and the detours”, specified the head of economic development, Luc Rabouin. The authorities also want to involve the Central Road Network Infrastructure Service (SIRR) in the granting of permits affecting the city center.

On Thursday, the director of the SIRR, Nathalie Martel, confirmed that 55,000 permits were granted in 2022, of which 42% came from the City of Montreal, 34% from the private sector and 20% from “public utility companies” such as Hydro. -Quebec. “The City does work on about 1,000 streets annually, but it is not the only one,” argued Ms. Martel.

Valérie Plante also wants to find solutions to fight against the “significant number of ghost construction sites” in Montreal. “If a borough gives a five-day permit, it’s not normal to see a sidewalk blocked for three weeks,” she recalls. The City thus wants to set in motion a “maximum delay of 12 hours” for the installation and dismantling of construction site signage.

As La Presse reported last week, the City also proposes “to grant additional powers to its Mobility Squad”. The organization could now “demobilize inactive sites and withdraw occupancy permits from the public domain after two unjustified notices of inactivity”.

According to our information, the Squad will soon obtain several additional staff, in particular via former employees of the Bureau du taxi, which was dismantled in December. At the same time, the City will centralize all the information in a single, already active platform, called AGIR. Montreal also suggests “increasing the value of the statements of offense issued by the Mobility Squad”.

For the director general of the Association québécoise des entrepreneurs en infrastructure (AQEI), which represents most of the companies carrying out street work donated by the City, everything is a question of balance. “If there are too many unfair or restrictive clauses, the market will lose interest and we will go elsewhere. It is still complex to gauge everything that can be put in a call for tenders to please entrepreneurs, elected officials, citizens. It’s quite a headache,” she says.

According to a recent study by the group, 78% of contractors first choose to go private for their contracts, “since they know that there are fewer clauses and penalties. “With the surge in prices in the last few months, the estimates have to follow. We want to bid with the real prices,” she insists.

The general manager of the Montreal Centre-ville Commercial Development Corporation, Glenn Castanheira, speaks of an “era of collaboration” to begin. “The industry is ready for the bar to be raised. There are builders who are ready to be exemplary in their layout. In reality, having such low standards penalizes those who are exemplary,” he mused.

Aurélie de Blois, spokesperson for Tourisme Montréal, calls on the authorities to act quickly. “We welcome the concrete measures, but we hope that these solutions will be applied quickly. Summer is upon us and there are going to be millions of visitors. These visitors must be able to see a city that is clean. The orange cone is not part of the postcard that we present internationally, “she illustrates.

Two months after a study by the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM), which revealed that a third of orange cones are “useless” downtown, the City also plans to replace its cones on the local network “with bollards smaller size or any other safety signaling device”. However, the Ministère des Transports (MTMD) will first have to modify its signage rules in this area.

Several discussions have already been initiated in this direction, confirms the spokesperson for the Ministry of Transport, Sarah Bensadoun. “That said, I can’t tell you yet if there will be any changes. We’re still having conversations right now,” she said.

Montreal also intends to “reduce the number of cones required during obstructions in urban areas”. The City also plans to “identify signaling equipment, including orange cones, with a chip or QR code, to allow the owner to be found and facilitate the recovery of the equipment”. The idea had been raised by several experts in recent months.

“It will also take action in the City itself. Some boroughs do not even register construction sites on the available platforms. The tools are not necessarily all there, and the City itself can improve in what it controls, “said CCMM President Michel Leblanc on Thursday.