Five people who love downtown

3 minutes

Philippe Boivin


The pandemic may have turned our everyday lives upside down, but it never diminished our love of downtown, not even for a second. Here are five businesspeople who, despite these unprecedented times, continue to work and visit the downtown core on an almost daily basis.

Chantal Riopel

Chantal Riopel

General manager of Delta Montreal by Marriott

As head of the Montreal Delta hotel, Chantal Riopel continues to travel downtown every day for work. And she considers herself very lucky to be able to do so. “Because my presence is essential to hotel operations, teleworking just isn’t an option for me. Obviously, because of the pandemic, my tasks have changed, but I still have the pleasure of seeing my colleagues on a daily basis. That human contact helps me stay positive,” points out Riopel.

This positive mindset is also what helps her look forward to better days, post-pandemic. “I believe that after every major crisis comes a period of rejoicing. I picture downtown Montreal as a joyful, animated, lively, and vibrant place. It’s bound to become a must-see destination once again,” says Riopel, as she reflects on the city’s many attractions.

Alexandre Forest

Alexandre Fores

Partner at Gowlings Montreal

Living in the city’s southern end, Alexandre Forest loves how close his office is. Close enough, in fact, that he would normally walk there every day. His morning commute is the perfect occasion to breathe in the fresh air before diving into his daily workload. However, like most people, Forest has been working mainly from home this past year. But that hasn’t stopped him from going for long walks alone or with his family. “My daughter is only a few weeks old, but she already loves to go out. When we don’t have time to go for a walk, we simply enjoy our building’s beautiful yard,” says Forest.

Actively involved in dance, music, and theatre since his post-secondary education, Forest currently serves as president of the board of the Ligue nationale d’improvisation, and remains optimistic about the future. “I’m convinced that the cultural demand in Montreal will explode once the health measures have been lifted,” predicts the talented lawyer.

Eva Hu

Eva Hu

Owner of Le Coq Frit restaurants

In addition to a breathtaking view of downtown and a living space that’s both cozy and chic, the Roccabella tower, where Eva resides, is also within walking distance of loads of great restaurants. The moment she steps foot outside her building, located on the corner of de la Montagne and René-Lévesque Boulevard, Eva wonders which restaurant she should grab takeout at. “When I walk through my neighbourhood, I’m fascinated by the sheer number of restaurants there are to choose from,”exclaims the young entrepreneur and owner of Le Coq Frit.

Eva bravely opened her new restaurant, located at 1800 Sainte-Catherine West, right in the midst of the pandemic. Her first restaurant, an express counter, is located in Montreal’s Chinatown. “Because I’m constantly at my restaurants, living downtown isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity,” says the businesswoman.

Alain Creton

Alain Creton

Owner and founder of Chez Alexandre restaurant

Alain Creton arrived in Montreal in 1967 and in 1977, he opened Chez Alexandre, a charming French restaurant he never thought would still be running 25 years later. As the first president of the Société de développement commercial du centre-ville, Creton can’t imagine living anywhere else. “Downtown Montreal was the backdrop to many of my professional adventures, but it’s also borne witness to my all-time greatest achievement: my family,” points out the charming businessman who has called downtown Montreal home fordecades now.

For Creton, the pandemic is an opportunity to rediscover the green expanses our great city has to offer. He admits to spending much of the past year jogging on Mont Royal. “I’m taking advantage of this downtime, because once the population is vaccinated, everyone will be flocking to the restaurants!”

Nathalie Gagnon

Nathalie Gagnon

Partner, lawyer, and head of the BCF business law group

Even after 23 years of making her way to her office on the corner of Peel and René-Lévesque, Nathalie Gagnon never tires of the 360-degree view her stimulating workspace offers of downtown Montreal. “When I look around me, I see the Samuel-de-Champlain and Jacques-Cartier bridges, the cathedral… This neighbourhood’s vitality is contagious,” says Gagnon.

Working from home since the start of the pandemic, Gagnon still gets to enjoy the downtown core, as she lives nearby, not far from the Atwater Market. This means she can still stroll the streets she loves and misses so much. “I continue to visit and encourage my favourite downtown establishments that have remained open.” In fact, it’s this solidarity spirit that led Gagnon to actively participate in organizing the most recent fundraiser for Fondation Jeunes en Tête, which offered hotel stays and gourmet meals in the downtown core, all while respecting current health and safety measures.