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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

It’s Tempo season!

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It’s that time of year when people in many Montreal neighbourhoods start installing much-maligned Tempo shelters to protect their driveways. Although they’re most common in the suburbs and in outer neighbourhoods like Rosemont, St. Leonard or Ville St. Laurent, I’ve even seen them in more urban neighbourhoods, where they are used to shelter apartment building entrances.

Tempo shelters are ugly and possibly dangerous — some say that, when it snows, they seal in carbon monoxide. A lot of people say they despise them, yet they remain immensely popular with hundreds of thousands of Montrealers, who figure it’s worth shelling out about $400 to ease the burden of shovelling snow in the winter.



  1. Actually, you won’t find them in Ville St. Laurent… it’s against their by-laws.
    We either have to shovel or hire someone here ;)

  2. I must say, if I lived in one of the houses in this picture, I’d buy a tempo too. All the snow accumulates in front of the garagedoor, and the driveway is so steep that you need really good traction not to drive into that same garage door when the snow/melt cycles of the Montreal climate did their thing again.

    I bet the architect hadn’t thought about that. If there was an architect.

  3. Downward-sloping driveways are actually fairly common, because it allows the basement floor to be below ground level. They almost always include a drain in front of (and behind) the garage door to counteract the problem of pooling water.

    Of course, the drains get clogged easily with leaves and dirt, or they’re just frozen over in winter. So you quickly find it impossible to open the garage door in the winter, and have to use a pump in the spring.

    It’s a compromise with trade-offs, but all of these effects are well-known by architects when they design these buildings. (Whether the homeowners know it or not is another story.)

    Also, I’m not aware of any case where anyone has suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from a Tempo tent. They’re not airtight, and have an opening on the side literally big enough to drive a car through.

    They’re ugly, but they’re just for the winter when nobody’s outside anyway.

  4. Speaking of quétaine, I hope some inspired owners of these skeletal eyesores do the honourable thing of living up to the word by outlining their contraption in christmas lights (like side-of-the-highway homes).

    Tempo season is officially decreed (at least in Rosemont) as october 15th to april 15th.

  5. You are lucky to be allowed to put them up. Shoveling triples your chance of a heart attack if you are over 40. A six week study at the Beaumont Hospital in Detroit counted over 30 people dying while removing snow because of heart attacks. The shelters are the most effective , efficient, environmentally sound (no noise or air pollution, no need for salt etc) way of keeping your car and driveway free of ice and snow, especially if it is sloped. It also removes the need to idle the car to warm it up to get the windows cleared.

  6. Bet you wish you had a tempo for this past winter….

  7. Hahaha, I bet that you are jealous of who actually can install a Tempo in his driveway, because probably you are living in West Island or other areas where Tempo shelters are not allowed.

    So… keep shoveling up and don’t be jealous :)

    Have a nice winter!

  8. the amount of labour assembling a one car tempo is equivalent to shoveling 3 driveways.
    ..and they are allowed in Pierrrfonds…

  9. The biggest tempo I’ve ever seen isn’t for cars; it’s the pedestrian tempo at the main entrance of the Maison de Radio-Canada. It goes from the front door, across the plaza, to the driveway. You could probably park half a dozen cars in it, end to end.

  10. hey does anyone know an installer for a tempo in the west island
    size is 16feet  X 32 feet

  11. roads are a disaster
    bridges falling apart
    mail soon to be gone like the dodo bird
    and yup tempos are ugly
    but the twits who build and let build homes with underground parking side by side like there is no land in canada are the root of this stupidity
    we got nothing but land in this country and there is no parking, no place to put the snow, no yards bigger then a stamp in city
    damn joke
    and the ville de montreal is very efficient in snow removal , depends on your area
    une ile une grande marde

  12. How close can someone install a tempo to his neighbor?

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