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 of the bus lane but is urging the borough council’s Projet Montreal majority to make changes if necessary.

“I want to make sure that it’s optimized and being used as intended, and not having a negative impact on businesses,” he said.

Moroz said the administration pledged to do a study on the economic vitality of Queen Mary, and that he wants to see the results revealed.

Global News requested an interview with Cote-des-Neiges-NDG mayor Gracia Kasoki Katahwa but was told she was too busy. She did, however, provide a written statement.

“We are saddened by the closure of the Jack and Jill. Local businesses are the heart of our neighborhoods and we are well aware that the economic context is currently very difficult for them, not only in Montreal but across the country,” Katahwa said.

She added that the city is determined to help local businesses, pointing to a $37 million subsidy announced this January for small businesses all over Montreal.

“It’s also worth noting that several new businesses have opened on Queen-Mary since the implementation of the reserved lane,” the mayor said.

“She pushed me out of business,” said Vininsky.

Jack and Jill’s owner says the store will close at the end of June and move online. Her lease is up and she won’t renew it.

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