Fantastic news out of the latest Verdun borough council meeting. Mayor Claude Trudel is talking about loosening zoning rules with an eye to making it possible to open watering holes on the Wellington St., Verdun's main commercial drag.
This is a very big deal. For years, Verdun and St. Lambert shared the distinction of being Quebec's only officially dry towns. Despite a steady influx of good, even great, eateries, there isn't a single bar, tavern, brasserie, night club or cabaret in Verdun. For decades, mayors used temperance laws to keep them out. Things got a little easier in 1996, when the rules were loosened to allow establishments to serve strong drink if a patron also ordered food.
Mayor Trudel thinks Verdun needs to get with the times. La Presse quotes him as saying that a microbrewery would be a welcome addition to Wellington St. The borough is experiencing a big influx of young first-time home buyers, entrepreneurs and immigrants looking for neighborhood amenities that reflect their lifestyles.
"A microbrewery is modern and it responds to a demand," Trudel said. "Beer brewed on the premises served with food. The atmosphere is modern and young. To me, that corresponds with what the clientele of Wellington St. is becoming."
Amen, Mayor Trudel!
None of this will happen overnight, of course. The borough is in the process of revising its urban master plan and will consult the citizenry before making any changes. That will be sent to city hall for approval in the new year.It has already been given an enthusiastic thumbs up by the head of the local merchants' association.
Other big changes may be coming to Wellington St. The borough is also looking at turning at least part of the shopping drag into a pedestrian mall or one-way street with an integrated bike path.
I'm not sure how either of those plans will fly locally, but I have to give the mayor props for being willing to think outside the box.