Terraces in Montreal closed | Two SIM frames are suspended

Two senior employees of the Montreal Fire Safety Service (SIM), including a department head, were suspended after the Peel Street grandstands were closed on Friday night, in the middle of Grand Prix weekend. An administrative investigation has also been launched to shed light on the matter.

This was confirmed at the end of the day by several well-informed sources who were not authorized to speak publicly. Earlier on Monday, the president of the City of Montreal’s executive council and economic development officer, Luc Rabouin, had only mentioned a suspension during a press conference following a meeting with traders on Peel Street.

“Management (of SIM) has decided to conduct an internal administrative investigation (Monday morning) to investigate the incident. Management has decided to suspend an employee,” he announced, without elaborating.

This is the first disciplinary action since Friday evening, when SIM staff forced the closure of the terraces on Rue Peel in the middle of the Grand Prix weekend, the busiest time of the year. They argued in particular that the distance between the shops and the marquees – which allowed the terraces to remain open despite the rainy weather – was not compliant.

“It’s a shock for the merchants and their customers. The image of Montreal has been damaged,” said Mr Rabouin on Monday. The day before, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante had said she was “sorry” that this intervention had led to “chaos on Peel Street” and had arranged for an autopsy to be carried out. This actually happened late Monday morning.

At this stage, neither the City of Montreal nor the SIM can determine the circumstances and steps that led to the closure of the terraces. “I can’t draw any conclusions other than that ‘something serious happened,'” said Mr. Rabouin.

A few hours earlier, the elected official had met with the restaurateurs on Rue Peel and asked them for 24 hours to carry out the necessary checks for the reinstallation of the marquees. After this delay, the city will have had “all the discussions” to determine what needs to be organized – “perhaps differently”, he admits – so that the return of the marquees can take place “in a safe manner”.

“We agree that the suspension was a mistake,” replied Julien Hénault-Ratelle, city councillor and opposition spokesperson for economic development. His party, Ensemble Montréal, is also demanding that an analysis of Friday evening’s events be carried out “publicly” in the city council.