Few things are as iconic in Montreal as the despised orange construction cone, and on Monday, the city of Montreal announced the launch of a new interactive map on its website to help Montrealers track and navigate the city's myriad construction sites.
Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough Mayor Émilie Thuillier says the map will help Montrealers see in real time where a construction site is, what the reason for it is and what company is responsible for it. The map also tells users when the work began and when it's scheduled to end.
This tool, said Thuillier, is one way of increasing accountability and helping to get rid of idle cones, including those put in place by those operating without proper construction permits.
"We are sometimes frustrated when we see a work site but when we know what it's for, half of the frustration is gone," said Thuillier, who is the person responsible for infrastructure at the city of Montreal.
Thuillier says that Montreal's Mobility Squad — which is tasked with removing illegal construction barriers and removing unnecessary signage — has made around 90,000 interventions since its inception several years ago.
According to the city, some 55,000 permits for construction in public spaces are issued each year. It says it increased the number of squad members in 2023 and granted them new powers to ensure a speedier assembly and taking down of construction sites.
The interactive maps shows when construction project on public roads are scheduled to begin and end and for what reason. (Carte des entraves et travaux de la Ville de Montréal)
Better to be warned, business owner says
Orange signs sit in front of Ariane Carle's boutique on Laurier Avenue in the Mile End neighbourhood, blocking the parking spots. Carle, who designs wedding dresses, says construction has been a major problem for her store.
"For years we've suffered from construction in the street," she said.
Designer Ariane Carle’s boutique says that construction has been a thorn in the side of her business but the city’s tool will help her plan for future work in front of her store. (Radio-Canada)
Using the city of Montreal's new map, she sees that Hydro-Québec will be doing some work in front of her store on Thursday.
But despite the inconvenience of having to potentially close the shop if the power is cut, she says it's better to be warned than be left in the dark.
"It's important to know what's coming," said Carle.
Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough mayor Émilie Thuillier says Montrealers will be less frustrated when they see what a work site is for and how long it will last. (Rowan Kennedy/CBC)
Michel Leblanc, president of Montreal's Chamber of Commerce (CCMM), welcomes the new tool, but he doesn't think it will solve the underlying issues that have made Montreal a maze of construction cones.
"This should reduce the presence of the cones, but at the end of the day, the big difference will be when the city is able to co-ordinate all those public works, all those road works, and we're not there yet," said Leblanc.
A 2023 CCMM report called for more oversight on road work.
The report found that 22 per cent of downtown cones were abandoned or "useless."