Montreal Opposition Pledges $20M Revamp for Historic Public Markets


Renowned globally, Montreal’s public markets are a testament to the city’s vibrant history and heritage. However, Ensemble Montreal, the city’s official opposition, is acutely aware that their glow is steadily dimming. Concerned, the party is vigorously pushing a motion through the city’s council, aimed at rejuvenating these historic marketplaces replete with flavor and life. Their goal is to give a much-needed facelift to the sites pockmarked by crumbling infrastructure, as shopkeepers clamor for an upgrade.

Farm JP Desgroseilliers, a familiar sight at the Jean Talon Market since 1964, personifies this struggle. Its steward, second-generation farmer Guy Desgroseilliers, laments the degradation of the market. Ensemble Montreal is, as such, urging the city to inject a hefty sum of $20 million to spruce up its three leading public markets – Jean Talon, Atwater, and Maisonneuve.

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“Seeing our beloved city step away from these historic markers and shirk its responsibility is indeed concerning for its public markets’ future,” said the city councillor of Cote-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grace (CDN-NDG), Stephanie Valenzuela.

Despite being run by the non-profit organization Montreal Public Market, the city holds ownership of the public markets and carries the responsibility of major repair works. The spells of neglect are glaringly evident. According to Nicolas Fabien-Ouellet, Montreal Public Market’s general manager, the last noteworthy investment into Jean Talon was over a decade ago, while Maisonneuve Market was last given attention back in the mid-90s.

“These structures have stood tall for nearly a century. As they age, regular maintenance becomes vital,” Fabien-Ouellet argued, pointing to issues of leaks and the need for improved insulation at Atwater and Jean Talon markets for the winter.

Increasingly, vendors complain about the mounting difficulties posed by infrastructural challenges. As a result, Ensemble Montreal calls for an expansion of the network of public markets.

“It’s become essential now to support local markets and protect the environment. Integrating public markets into the city’s current and new developmental areas just seems logical,” suggested Valenzuela. The non-profit, though desirous of more funds for existing markets, does not dismiss prospective expansions.

“We are engaged in the dialogue and providing leadership,” stated Fabien-Ouellet. For now, the Plante administration has chosen silence over advancing public comments on the proposal, opting to air its views at the city council on Oct. 16, when the motion is set for debate.