“Sword-off in the water”, “wildfire” There were many skeptics in the launch of Mtl I see it a year ago. Without making too much noise, this citizen movement has produced concrete results in the last year. Some 70 projects have already been completed or are about to be, and fifty others are ongoing. Overview.
A work of art of 4.5 kilometers between the airport and downtown. A business incubator of many millions in Little Burgundy. A tool library in Villeray. Despite the skepticism, the citizen movement I see Mtl has already generated 54 practical projects one year after its launch, while 16 others are about to be completed.
“This is a huge success to mobilize and create a momentum,” said Michel Leblanc, President of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CSCM).
I see Mtl raised a wave of enthusiasm – and several eyebrows – at its launch in November 2014. While the city is recovering from numerous corruption scandals and bathed in a certain gloom, BMO and invited CSCM Montrealers to submit projects in all spheres of activity. Over 180 were selected.
A year later, more than half of the projects have been completed (54) in final testing phase (16) and developing (49). The movement I see Mtl has meanwhile become I am Mtl and has a monitoring office, headed by former PQ minister Diane De Courcy.
If several projects were already pregnant before starting I see Mtl, they lacked in many cases a spark plug. The real estate manager Natalie Voland, for example, bought a disused church four years ago in Little Burgundy in order to turn it into a small business incubator, a project that was struggling to take off.
“The project was already in the making, but it was very difficult for the zoning change and vocation, because such a project had never done before in Montreal, she explains. After we returned in the movement I am Mtl, it greatly facilitated the project. We found ourselves surrounded by a pack of experts, themselves full of contacts. ”
After a work of sprint, which ended at the time of our visit, Natalie Voland will open in mid-November 1861. The Exhibition This new center will include 80 kinds shared workspaces (co-working) areas for residents of deprived area and a restaurant, offices and a large reception room. The building is already leased to 67%.
The President of the CSCM recognizes that many records were already in progress before I see Mtl. But he insists that the commitments made during the conference constituted real catalysts, including for his own body.
The CSCM was committed to working with partners to add five new direct air links to Montreal the next three years. The goal was achieved in less than a year, with new flights to Beijing, Reykjavik, Lyon, Budapest and Marrakech, a success that Michel Leblanc attributed in large part I am Mtl.
“What he had to climb is the” business case “, he said. What was needed was to put pressure on decision makers and ensure that they engage in it. Cynicism is to say that things would have occurred anyway. The reality is that at some point, it takes people who decide: we will deliver a result, we’ll go knock on doors, and just that fact in itself will cause a result. ”
How much investment?
It is not currently possible to quantify the value of all projects under I am Mtl. Some were conducted at arm’s length by volunteers with a tiny budget, while others, like the Salon in 1861, led to investments of several million.
Monitoring Office, meanwhile, has a modest operating budget of $ 270,000 this year. His influence, however, seems real. Reportedly, Diane De Courcy sent the set to Montreal officials to show “benevolent” towards projects, a message that seems to have been heard.
The project The Shed, for example, stumbled to systematic refusal since his type of activity – a tool library – did not exist in the official records of the City.
The young cooperative was finally able to get a “hybrid” occupancy permit to settle in Villeray after intervention I am Mtl to officials.
Not a panacea
Despite the fifty projects for a year, the Montréal economy will need much more than a move as I am Mtl to get back on track, thinks Luc Ferrandez, leader of the official opposition at City Hall . He believes that the city is now “in much worse off” than the election of Mayor Denis Coderre two years ago, as evidenced by the decline in business creation and rising unemployment.
“I am Mtl, it’s friendly, it’s a great initiative, but the fact remains that this is not a specific plan to support entrepreneurs, M. Ferrandez launches. It is a kind of cultural activity needed to promote entrepreneurship, but this is not an accurate support. And if it is one, it is in very rare cases that it works. ”
Denis Coderre believes instead that I am Mtl produced significant results on the ground. “It’s like a kind of catalyst that caused a lot of changes and put a lot of people in common,” advanced the politician, joined during his economic mission to China.
Despite some negative economic indicators, the President of Desjardins Group, Monique Leroux, estimates that the overall situation has improved somewhat in Montreal with the “momentum” current. His organization will soon launch the contest VIVA Mtl, in order to enhance Montrealers who illustrate.
“It’s like anything in life, the more one is gloomy, the more one is negative, the more it leads us into a vicious circle of gloom, advance Ms. Leroux. Basically, VIVA Mtl, it took over the business in the other direction, to show how it may instead be encouraged. There are beautiful things, beyond all that often makes the headlines. ”
Louis Vachon, President of the National Bank, also considers that the general state of mind of Montrealers is “clearly better” today. His course project gallery between the airport and the city center will help improve the image of the metropolis with visitors and Montrealers, he hopes.
“You can give credit to the mayor Coderre, I think it has a lot of initiative, said Mr. Vachon. I think Montreal has all the pieces to succeed. What he lacks is a bit of coordination. ”
A small step is taken in this direction with the announcement in two weeks for the creation of a new committee, which will ensure the monitoring of all projects submitted to I am Mtl. This organization – called “DNA Council”, to “notice”, “developers” and “innovative” – will be chaired by Denis Coderre and will bring together 15 leaders Montreal.
In parallel, a dozen Quebec and international scientists are currently developing an index to measure the real impact of these projects and links between the participants. This tool should make it possible to know the return on investment.
Two new conferences
Two events will be held in two weeks for an update on progress to date and give a boost participants I am Mtl. A first conference will be held Monday at the Grande Bibliothèque and bring together 300 project leaders and their collaborators. The “supporters-experts” like lawyers and finance specialists, will VOR each project to accelerate development. Another event will be held November 17 at the 1861 Salon, to formally mark the first anniversary of the movement. New “formal commitments” will be taken to carry out projects that have not yet emerged. Between 400 and 500 participants are expected.