After 70 years in business, NDG store says reserved bus lane hastened closure – Montreal

A store in Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges-NDG borough, that’s been operating for over 70 years, says it’s closing its doors because a new bus lane has hurt business.

The city installed reserved lanes during rush hour on Queen Mary in November of 2022.

Back then, merchants worried aloud that their customers wouldn’t be able to find parking. Now they say their fears have become reality.

“Everything has dropped off at least 25 per cent,” said Barbara Vininsky, owner of Jack and Jill.

Vininsky takes pride in selling what’s trending in the world of kids.

“The customers, they’re like my friends. I have a relationship with them,” she lovingly said.

The business has taken various forms since her mother opened it in 1945, but she says now its storied history as a storefront is over.  She’s closing in a few months, in large part because she claims a reserved bus lane implemented on Queen Mary Road in 2022 has been bad for business.

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During the afternoon rush when parents would drop in with their kids, the parking spots right in front of the store are eliminated to facilitate public transit mobility.

“When they can’t find a parking spot, they just keep going, so you lose all that business,” she said.

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Back when it was announced, Vininsky and others petitioned against the lane. The Punjab Canteen restaurant says it has hurt them, too

“It’s been a very big loss in our business,” said chef Manjeet Kumar.

Kumar said customers have received parking-related fines, and sometimes delivery drivers just don’t pick orders up at all because there’s nowhere to stop.

“I don’t think it reduces parking, they’re just going to have to look for it,” said public transit user Marlene Miolich. “There’s lots of side streets here and buses are imperative.”

When Vininsky announced the closure online, dozens of sad comments poured in.

“I’m very sad because I have to find another job,” said Hazel Young, who has been working at Jack and Jill for 23 years.

Snowdon city councillor Sonny Moroz said he had shopped at Jack and Jill as a child.

“My sister bought all her Beanie Babies there, and to lose it is to lose a landmark institution on an important commercial artery,” he said.

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Moroz voted in favour

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Employees call Scarborough Chapters closure union busting, Indigo says it’s a business decision

Employees of a Chapters bookstore in Scarborough are accusing Indigo of union busting after the company told employees it’d be closing the store in January, which was one of three unionized locations in Toronto. 

Victoria Popov, a part-time employee and union steward at the store, says about 30-40 people will lose their jobs due to the closure on Jan. 27. The store has been open at Kennedy Commons mall for 24 years. In a statement, Indigo told CBC Toronto the store was closed after a standard business review that factored in profitability and says the company is working to support employees.

But Popov says staff feel unsupported by the Canada-wide chain. She says employees have been transferred to other locations after previous store closures, but a transfer was denied for everyone at the Scarborough store.

“We think we’re being made an example of for being unionized and for demanding better wages,” she said. “I think they want to show other stores: ‘This is what will happen to you if you dare step out of line.'”

Victoria Popov, a part-time employee and union steward at the store, says about 30-40 people will lose their jobs due to the closure on Jan. 27. (Jason Trout/CBC)

Indigo’s operations have been in the headlines over the past year, last fall there was a shakeup in the executive ranks that saw president Peter Ruis promoted to CEO, while founder Heather Reisman was bumped up to executive chair. Then the company was hit by a cyberattack in February and Reisman retired completely in the aftermath. In September, Ruis resigned after less than a year as CEO and Reisman returned as chief executive.

Prior to the cyberattack, the store said it was on track for a profitable 2022-2023 — but it ended up losing $50 million on the fiscal year as a result.

Evidence needed to prove union busting: lawyer

Michael Lynk, professor emeritus of law at the University of Western Ontario, says he’d need to see more evidence to definitively call the store’s closure an act of union busting. He says employers can close a unionized store if it is a pure economic decision.

He says the union could file a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board to accuse Indigo of committing an unfair labour practice. 

“When a union accuses an employer of committing an unfair labour practice, the onus actually reverses, the onus is

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‘A big inconvenience for everybody’: Queen Street closure disruptive, downtown businesses say

A closure of a section of Queen Street downtown is disruptive and it could reduce pedestrian traffic in the normally busy area, business owners and workers say.

Ultimately, the closure of four blocks of Queen Street, from Bay to Victoria streets, for 4.5 years could reduce business itself, the business people said.

The closure, which began on Monday, is due to construction of the future Queen station of the Ontario Line. The station is one of 15 new stations on the line that will stretch from Exhibition Place to the Ontario Science Centre.

Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency, says the closure applies to drivers and cyclists but not to pedestrians. Downtown businesses remain open. TTC detours are in place. Metrolinx has promised business owners that pedestrian traffic will continue as usual.

At least one convenience store owner is concerned that the closure could force him into bankruptcy, while one business worker said the closure is already making people late for appointments. A business association says the full impact of the closure is not yet known.

Salim Merchant, a franchisee of the INS Market, a convenience store on the southwest corner of Victoria Street and Queen Street East, said he bought the franchise in November 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the closure is another hit to his business.

“I thought that I might make some extra bread and butter for my family, but even it’s hard to get bread and butter for me,” Merchant said on Monday.

Merchant said he gets 50 to 70 customers per day now that some office workers have returned downtown, but the closure makes him worried about the future.

“We are using our own capital — investing and investing — but we are getting nothing from the business now,” he said.

“I’m only seeing one door open and that is going to a bankruptcy. I don’t see any other doors in front of me. We are not getting any single cent of relief on the rent. How are we going to survive?”

WATCH | CBC’s Julia Knope explains what you need to know about the closure:

How to navigate the Queen Street closure

Starting May 1, Queen Street between Bay and Victoria streets will be closed to traffic until at least 2027. Julia Knope breaks down how you can get around.

For Jonel Franco, a barber at Urban Philosophy Men’s Grooming on Richmond Street East,

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