The newly elected Projet-Montréal borough council in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal have indicated that they plan to phase out free parking spaces in favour of charging non-resident drivers for the privilege. Facing a 4 million dollar deficit with few options to increase revenue, the borough council has been experimenting with new approaches to increase revenue to make up for the budgetary shortfall caused mostly by the current economic slowdown and the near-record snowfalls of last winter. Public consultations will be held before any decisions are made.
It is expected that 3 million dollars will be raised in new revenue annually. This, along with the decision not to truck away snow on weekends which will save the borough around 1.5 million dollars this winter, should make up for the red ink, and then some.
The borough currently has 10 000 to 11 000 free parking spots, mostly on-street spaces in residential areas. Alex Norris, a borough councilor, told the CBC that many of these spaces are used by “freeloaders who park for free on our residential streets, and don’t pay a penny for it”.
The plan has potential to bring a number of benefits to the borough beyond balancing the budget. Public transit use will likely increase as more people leave their cars at home to avoid new parking fees; traffic, especially due to drivers roaming the streets in search of free parking, will diminish; and residents will find it easier to park their vehicles with the increase in zoned parking and less outsiders using the formally free spaces. Of course, some are unhappy with the plan. Chris Karidogiannis, a shop owner in Mile End who was involved in the fight against the ave du Parc name change is one such person. Never missing a chance to complain against any measures limiting vehicle use in the city, he called the plan a “new, left-wing, hippie, commie policy of getting rid of cars on the Plateau” and claims that “Hook or crook, we are an economy based on transportation by vehicle”. Apparently, he missed the point that such policies are part of a larger strategy being implemented in many cities around the world meant to transform such vehicle-based economies. Unfortunately for Karidogiannis, the hippie commies are gaining traction.