The 2021 Montréal centre-ville awards presented by La Presse

10 minutes

Montreal centre-ville

Les prix Montréal centre-ville 2021
Since 2010, the Montréal centre-ville awards pay homage to individuals, organizations, and commercial activities that contribute to making Montreal—and particularly its downtown core—a vibrant place to live and visit. Montréal centre-ville is a non-profit organization dedicated to making Montreal’s downtown core a vibrant, clean, safe, and an internationally renowned place to shop, work, and live. During this most challenging year, exceptional people and outstanding teams have distinguished themselves by their vision, their leadership, their agility and their creativity. So without further ado, let us proudly present this year’s recipients.


The tribute award recognizes an individual who has outstandingly contributed to the relaunch of the downtown core.

The recognition award celebrates an individual who has contributed to the development of downtown Montreal in a remarkable and sustainable fashion, and who has helped make the city shine.

The staff pick award recognizes a business, event, or initiative that has stood out in the eyes of the Montréal centre-ville team.

The commercial development award celebrates the hard work of an individual or organization that has stood out for their positive impact on downtown Montreal’s commercial development.

The public service award honours the dynamism of an organization or individual involved in the public or institutional sphere, and who has contributed to the city’s development and to making the downtown core shine.

The employer award recognizes the implication of a downtown business for its role as an employer, as well as for the support it provides the downtown community.

The economic development award celebrates the hard work of an individual or organization that has stood out for their positive impact on downtown Montreal’s economic development.

The event award singles out an event, show, or demonstration that generated a lot of buzz, and got the attention of those in charge at Montréal centre-ville.

The ambassador award celebrates an individual or organization for their leadership and contribution to making the downtown core shine.

Tribute Award

Monique Simard

Monique Simard

Chair of the board of directors of the quartier des spectacles partnership

Since becoming chair of the board of directors of the Quartier des spectacles partnership in 2019, Ms. Monique Simard has found herself immersed in the heart of downtown at a time when it seemed like time itself had stopped for the city! Nevertheless, her dynamism has been exemplary.

Under her tenure and that of her team, a large number of initiatives to revive the downtown area were developed, the most recent being the Aventures du cœur de l’île campaign. Activities, rest areas, artistic presentations… downtown has become a catalyst for some of the most original activities and initiatives ever, attracting and entertaining residents and visitors alike during this difficult period.

Buoyed by her enthusiasm and community spirit, Ms. Simard has been a driving force in creating authentic, enduring synergy between all of the area’s active partners, organizations and private and governmental institutions.

Ms. Simard has long been a revitalizing force. Very active and engaged in culture, she has over the years been a producer of over 60 documentaries, the ONF’s general manager of French programming and the chief executive officer of SODEC.


In May of 2020, she became a member of the advisory committee for Montreal’s recovery and relaunch. Last spring, Ms. Simard was named a member of the consulting committee for the REM de l’Est public transit project by the Quebec government. She is also the chair of the board for Fonds Québecor as well as for Vitrine Culturelle de Montréal.

Because of her distinguished career, and for being one of the most important allies of the city’s economic and cultural reco­very, Montréal centre-ville is very proud to present Ms. Simard with the Hommage Award for 2021.

“I was born in Montreal and I’ve spent my whole life here. That’s why I’m committed to making it more attractive and dynamic in every aspect.”

Recognition Award

André Lavallée


It’s a notable fact that Mr. André Lavallée has figured prominently amongst those individuals who have moulded Montreal and its downtown core into what it is today! His most famous undertaking was his development of the BIXI project, which became an international success.

As a witness with a privileged view of the growth of the city, Mr. Lavallée has always worked actively to build Montreal into both an economic and social centre.

His resumé is impressive: He was a member of the municipal council from 1986 to 1998, during which period he notably headed the Ville-Marie borough council and led the preparations for the first urban plan and the development of several major public policies.

From 1999 to 2003, as part of the provincial government of Quebec, he became the deputy director of the Ministry of Municipal and Metropolitan Affairs.  A visionary leader, he initiated the self-serve BIXI bike system and helmed the preparation of the first transportation plan for the Montreal urban area. He was also named vice-president of the Executive Committee.

André Lavallée

From November 2009 to September 2012, Mr. Lavallée headed the Ville-Marie borough council. At the end of that term, he was named secretary-general for the metropolitan region for the provincial government. In April of 2014, while at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, he became deputy minister for the metropolitan area. Finally, starting in 2015, Mr. Lavallée became involved with a number of committees and organizations, including XP_MTL.

And so it is at this opportune moment that the 2021 Recognition Award is being given to recognize the incredi­ble involvement of such an exceptional individual. Thank you!

“I’m happy to have taken part in defining a city that is both modern yet accessible to everyone.”

Staff pick Award


Founder of SOUK HABITAT at PVM

Unveiled in December 2020, SOUK HABITAT at PVM is the very definition of triumph over adversity. From the heights of downtown, its 9,300-square-foot space has become a backdrop for presenting local designers in their best light. The initiative was created by Azamit, a Montreal style icon.

Constructed in partnership with Ivanhoé Cambridge, which handled the magnificent revitalization of Place Ville Marie, this space on the 20th floor is a widely regarded favourite!

As the entrepreneurial spirit behind SOUK, Azamit continues to show her unrivalled commitment towards promoting local designers by highlighting their work.

Over the years, Azamit has earned the respect of all Canadian designers, as well as the fashion and art communities, and has become a major figure in design, beauty and fashion.

Out of her constant desire to develop new ideas, Azamit was led on a quest to champion everything local, no matter where she finds it.

All eyes on Place Ville Marie: Ivanhoé Cambridge’s initiatives to turn PVM into a productive, elegant space have met with success. And Azamit, at the top of her game, is promoting local talent with brio.

Montréal centre-ville is proud to present Azamit with the Favourite Staff pick Award to salute her creative skill as well as her entrepreneurial spirit, and to support innovative initiatives such as SOUK HABITAT at PVM.

“I would like to thank Ivanhoé Cambridge for believing in us and helping to develop this unusual project in the midst of the pandemic.”

Commercial Development Award

Marie-Michèle Thibault

Director, hospitality sales and marketing at Humaniti Hotel Montreal

Montréal centre-ville is delighted to honour Humaniti Hotel Montreal with the Commercial Development Award. Opening its doors on June 1 of last year, the hotel has quickly earned its place as a downtown landmark, not only for its unique architecture and human-centred approach, but also for all the exceptional ways it caters to guests.

With 193 fabulous rooms, one of the most expansive roof decks in the city, foodie offerings, and more, Humaniti truly is a beacon of abundance and modern living.

Award recipient Marie-Michèle Thibault personifies innovation in her work as a specialist who both opens and repositions hotels, having overseen the inaugurations of prestigious establishments the likes of W Montréal, Hôtel Le Crystal and Bisha Hotel Toronto. In 2018, she became the first Canadian to oversee the openings of all Marriott– and franchisee-managed properties in Canada and the United States.

Celebrated for her creativity, this Director of Hospitality Sales and Marketing for Humaniti Hotel Montreal will teach a management course at ITHQ starting this fall, which is part of a new applied bachelor’s program in hospitality and hotel management.

“We at Humaniti Hotel Montreal are honoured to receive this award, especially given the outlier of a year in which we opened!”

Public service Award

Nicolas Roy

Executive director at PME MTL Centre-Ville

Throughout this pandemic, PME MTL Centre-Ville has been providing support to merchants and entrepreneurs, especially downtown, in the realms of financing, training, job placement, and expert advising. An emergency fund was rolled out to process the hundreds of requests coming in to help keep people in their current jobs and create new ones.

At the helm of PME MTL Centre-Ville, Nicolas Roy is like a fish in water. He is known for his expertise in developing entrepreneurship, managing programs, and attracting investment. With his highly specialized skill set, Roy and his team support businesses across sectors at every phase of their development, including project management and strategic planning.

The organization helps some 15,000 entrepreneurs, and a large segment of the businesses PME MTL Centre-Ville supports are in the start-up phase.

For these reasons and more, Montréal centre-ville is thrilled to celebrate a highly active partner in relaunching the downtown core with the 2021 Public Service Award.

“Our team is committed to the success of downtown businesses and we will continue to support them.”

Employer Award

An Verhulst-Santos

Chief executive officer, L’ORÉAL Canada

Did you know that the Canadian branch of L’ORÉAL, the world’s largest cosmetics company, is headquartered in downtown Montreal? Though the company confronted many challenges during the pandemic, it also supported its collaborators by swiftly implementing effective measures, including a volunteer committee to help every single L’ORÉAL employee navigate their new reality.

Moreover, the company also established a relief plan for Canadian hospitals and community organizations, allowing employees to contribute to the collective effort through the production and distribution of free hand sanitizers, as well as s a company-run matching-donation program.

L’ORÉAL Canada has also fostered a climate of trust and security for its own employees with its well-established flexible work policy called WorkSmart, which has proven especially relevant over the last
few months.

Furthermore, the company’s Global Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board, launched in 2020, aims to foster open discussions on ways to strengthen L’ORÉAL’s commitments to diversity and inclusion through four main pillars: LGBTQ+, People with Disabilities, Equity and IBPoC. To broaden impact, the board’s activities and programs are focused as much on consumers as they are on collaborators and community members. Their goal? To create the beauty that moves the world.

Having arrived in Montreal in July 2021, An Verhulst-Santos is the first female CEO of L’ORÉAL Canada, one of the multinational’s major divisions. Montréal centre-ville welcomes her and is pleased to present her with the 2021 Employer Award to L’ORÉAL Canada.

“L’ORÉAL CANADA is very proud to have been named a top employer and key player in downtown Montreal’s renewed dynamism.”

Economic Development Award

Déborah Cherenfant

President and spokeswoman at the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Montreal

According to the results of a spring 2021 survey conducted by Léger and the city of Montreal, the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Montreal (JCCM)—one of the biggest networks of young entrepreneurs and professionals in the country—has put its finger on what Montreal’s relaunch should look like: green and inclusive. The passion, resilience, and creativity of these young entrepreneurs were also made apparent through the survey.

The next generation of downtown business movers and shakers has been hard-hit by this pandemic, and the JCCM is committed to supporting several recommendations to the government, including ensuring an economic transition that is more equitable, one that strengthens neighbourhood life and invests in local services.

The desire to change and support is embodied by the electric JCCM President Déborah Cherenfant. Ever since she came to Quebec in 2005, Déborah has redoubled her dedication to economic development and promoting female leadership. Since 2018, she has served on the CSF (Quebec’s council on the status of women) and is currently active on several boards.

An entrepreneur through and through, TEDx speaker, unrivalled educator and host, as well as Canada’s 2015 delegate to the G20 Young Entrepreneur Summit, people are lining up for Cherenfant’s expertise. You can also catch her on ICI Première’s Tout un matin and 15-18, see her on Noovo
Le Fil, and read her work in the pages of Les Affaires.

Montréal centre-ville is extremely proud to award this prize to a person whose talent and skills are contributing to the economic development of our city.

“This award is incontrovertible proof of our contribution to amplifying what matters to the next generation of businesspeople in Montreal.”

Event Award

Rosalie Beauchamp

Co-founder at Le Monastère

 Without a doubt, Montreal is the circus capital of North America. Le Monastère is the first circus arts facility to make downtown Montreal its home base, and people are taking notice! Established five years ago, Le Monastère is a not-for-profit organization whose mission centres on democratizing the circus by showcasing the work of artists who put on cabaret-style acts there for the public.

Running all summer long and up until October 3, Le Monastère offers up highly entertaining programming for downtown Montreal, inviting visitors and residents to take in shows that are as exuberant as they are spontaneous.

Our award recipient and co-founder of Le Monastère Rosalie Beauchamp is the very definition of a circus lover. Hailing from Mont-Laurier, much of Beauchamp’s youth was spent dreaming of the big top. Her extraordinary journey and curious nature have led Rosalie to develop a unique repertoire artistically speaking, as well as a solid entrepreneurial skillset. With an ear ever to the ground, she drew on her artistic adventures around the world to bring Le Monastère into being alongside circus artist Guillaume Blais—a “cabaret circus” to be exact, the only establishment of its kind in the city.

Montréal centre-ville is happy to know that Le Monastère is in such good hands, hands that have earned this non-profit the Event Award, not only for participating so actively in the development of the local social economy, but also for working in tandem with the city’s players in culture, tourism, entrepreneurship and business.

“We are extremely proud to have been recognized by Montréal centre-ville from the very start of this project.”

Ambassador Award

Danny Dery

Vice-president of Employee Advisory Services, National Bank of Canada

The National Bank of Canada (NBC) presides over downtown Montreal and its activities bear significant weight when it comes to the city’s recovery. NBC has become its leading ambassador ever since the bank’s new head office was constructed downtown—in fact, it’s the first building you see when entering the city from the Bonaventure Expressway. What’s more, for the past year and a half, NBC has been involved with encouraging workers to return to the office as part of its efforts towards an economic recovery.

BNC’s involvement and leadership has made it an essential force for change in the future of downtown, thereby contributing to promoting our city.

As the Vice-President of the National Bank’s Employee Advisory Services, Mr. Danny Déry is specifically responsible for creating the road map that will lead workers and emplo­yees to return to their offices.

Mr. Déry joined the National Bank in 2000. He has close to 30 years of experience in the banking industry. As Vice-President of Employee Advisory Services since 2016, Mr. Déry and his team have been responsible for delivering high-quality advice to employees, managers and retirees both within and outside of Canada.

In addition, he is responsible for human resource technology management, labour relations and risk management for the entire Employee Experience group. As of January of 2020, he assumed responsibility for strategies related to business continuity during the COVD-19 pandemic for the entire organization.

Montréal centre-ville is happy to award the Ambassador Prize to the National Bank of Canada for the organization’s involvement in the post-pandemic recovery.

“National Bank is proud to receive this award, which underscores our efforts to restore dynamism to the downtown core of our city.”