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Free parking for non-residents to end in Plateau

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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.


  1. I have an apartment on the Plateau, but my car is registered elsewhere in Quebec. I would gladly pay for a residential permit if they would allow it.

    If they made that step one, they’d probably also get all the students to pay for a permit, too.

  2. Wow, this is a really bad idea. A radical shift away from car access will only have the effect of keeping potential customers away from the plateau. I believe this policy will ultimately harm the vitality of the borough.

    Using the word free loaders for people who park without paying might be a little harsh. These people are still contributing to the local economy by eating in restaurants or shopping in stores etc…

    The strategy in many European cities is more effective. Every year, a small percentege (2-3) of parking spaces would be taken away, and a gradual improvement to the cycling and public transit infrastructure.

  3. I don’t own a car, but I frequently rent one – and now I’ll have no way to park it near my house? Brilliant plan. When I contest that ticket the city will lose more on me than it hopes to gain.

  4. Henri: That’s a very good point. It would be something to bring up at the public consultations. Perhaps there could be a way for people who don’t own cars but rent/share frequently to have some kind of special permit that could be put on different cars.

  5. Thanks for this post, Chris. As a resident of the borough I think this is sensible. Plateau voters elected a Projet Montréal administration because they wanted to shake things up, and the now the elected officials are delivering. I have to say that I’m kind of surprised by the amount of noise people are making about this, and for a few reasons:

    First, it’s important to note that an official policy has not yet been adopted. The borough administration has expressed its intention to go in the general direction of eliminating free parking for non-residents, but the details have not been decided. A lot of unsupported assumptions have been thrown about by the media as of late.

    Second, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Reducing the amount of free parking for non-residents was explicitly one of Projet Montréal’s local campaign promises. Source:

    Third, the people who have been howling the most about this are mainly people who don’t live in the borough as well as certain (but definitely not all) Park Avenue and Mont-Royal merchants. I think that the majority of residents of the borough (and thus the voters who elected the council) would be in favour of such a proposal.

  6. Also, my understanding is that the main targets of this change would be people who work in the borough and leave their cars parked on side streets the entire day without paying. I think making such people pay a fair share is totally reasonable. If you want to bring your car in from Laval, then you should contribute to maintaining the infrastructure. Now, the question is how to do this without overly inconveniencing residents, and this is what the public consultations will be for. I encourage people like Pat and Henri to participate and present their concerns.

    Regarding the argument that such a move would hurt the local economy, I think that argument is a red herring. A neighbourhood is first and foremost for its residents. Reducing the amount of cars coming into the neighbourhood is an important environmental, quality of life, and safety issue for many Plateau residents. The results of the election clearly show this. Many residents are also concerned that their neighbourhood is becoming a playground for people coming from elsewhere in the city. Look at Prince-Arthur: all restaurants and bars, no grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. And look at Mont-Royal: more and more expensive boutiques and less neighourhood, everyday businesses. Residents want balance in their neighbourhood, not boosterism and business promotion at the expense of quality of life.

    At any rate, most people who come into the neighourhood to eat, go out, shop, etc. do so because it’s a stimulating, walkable environment, not because parking is plentiful and cheap. Saying that we need to compete with the suburbs is the sort of wrong headed thinking that lead to monstrosities such as the Plaza Saint-Hubert, and the Saint-Roch Mall. The Plateau is not Quartier DIX30.

  7. Right on! Excellent commentary, Devin.

  8. Here is a link to a posting that Luc Ferrandez, the Plateau borough mayor, just put up on his blog.

    In it he mentions possible solutions to many of the issues mentioned, as well as his point of view on the media circus that has developed around this non-issue.

  9. Devin, thanks for your input.

    I don’t think we should be taking our lead from the Park ave merchants. These are the same people who desperately fought against the reserved rush hour bus lane. I would venture that an overwhelming percentage of Park ave business comes from local residents. And those who come from elsewhere do so precisely because the neighbourhood is people-scaled, not car-scaled. Minimizing free parking is a good thing and goes in the right direction of what Montrealers increasingly want for this city.

    That being said, I hope Alex’s use of “freeloaders” doesn’t come back to bite him. Poor choice of words, but he’s definately got the right idea.

  10. This WILL deter people from visiting the Plateau and shopping and dinning. This will NOT encourage more public transit use. If you want stores and restaurants to prosper, you have to sweeten the pot so-to-speak – free parking is ALWAYS one way to do so. Montreal is a city of cars and the Plateau is not some isolated little village that can be totally self-sufficient in terms of its economy. Of course, the “leaders” in Montreal just don’t get it. Never have.

  11. By the way, Chris Karidogiannis is a spokesperson for the would-be Action Montréal party.

    That gives some clue to his ridiculous Duplessisiste, McCarthyite redbaiting (and greenbaiting). He did one sensible thing a few years ago, spearheading the move (shared by residents of all ethnic origins including the hippie-commie factions thereof) against the silly renaming of avenue du Parc.

    One often finds a certain type of “local merchant” opposing all progressive environmentalist and public/active transport policy: Karidogiannis had lots of company among Toronto merchants who opposed a tramline on St. Clair Street. Think they opposed the Spadina tram too, although it delivers them lots of customers nowadays, as the avenue du Parc tram will when it gets built.

    They hate cyclists, despite the fact that many of their customers arrive on bicycle (This guy sells flags, not something heavy that has to be hauled away by truck).

    Odd, last time I checked, trams and buses were “vehicles”, as are bicycles…

    Some historical comparison can be drawn to the postwar Poujadiste movement in France, a reactionary populist current defending the interests of small traders.

    Fortunately not all Plateau merchants are so thick; many are well-aware that environmentally-conscious customers who prefer to shop on foot, on bicycle and via public transport are an important client base, preferring to shop in central city neighbourhoods rather than carcentric shopping malls.

    Michael, the plan is precisely to “phase out” parking spaces as has been done successfully in many European cities (along with improved public transport and bicycle lanes – Paris is worth a look for a city that has changed dramatically in this respect) not to eliminate non-resident parking overnight.

    This pseudo-crisis does draw attention to the need for better public transport though. One of the people they interviewed on CBC likes in Montréal-Nord and works on the Plateau. The blue line has never been completed to Pie-IX, the express bus along Pie-IX discontinued and in general that northeastern area needs better and faster public transport.

  12. It’s a good thing that what is reported has so little to do with the actual proposals (thanks Devin for the link!) but it’s still not quite there. I’m all for shaking things and questioning whether we have the right balance between free parking/street parking/parking lots, etc. After all our car-centric culture has often given motorists a free ride whether it was a good idea or not. But I don’t see how no free parking at all can be the right balance.

    Those few free parking spaces are needed to make communauto works on some level. If people need to double park in front of their house or go all the way back to the communauto parking to find a spot it becomes one more point in favor of individual car ownership (and regular vignettes which communauto cars don’t get). Some people would be able to get around that with the coupons idea but not all. Communauto (as well as taxis and individual car ownership) is built around flexibility. Buying leaflets of coupons in advance and carrying them with you at all time goes against that.

    Pat’s example shows that the very concept of cataloguing everyone in categories (“resident”, etc.) by a bureaucratic machine leaves some people out which otherwise should be entitled. Putting 100% of the public parking space under such a strict governance is somewhat anti-democratic and anti-urban. You need a little bit of grey zone to buffer situations that cannot be foreseen or defined clearly. For all the different situations identified in Luc Ferrandez’s blog it still falls a bit short (I think it does solves Pat’s specific situation and a few others tough). For one thing, almost all the scenarios in the blog take for granted that parking a car will happen after you’ve had time to fill paperwork or buy something in advance from the borough (coupons, vignettes, etc.). That doesn’t always work, life is more chaotic than that (thankfully!).

    I work for the city in an emergency service. We have one facility on the Plateau which we sometime have to get to in urgent and unplanned circumstances and the city doesn’t provide parking (and public transit often doesn’t work when we’re called there)… The (central) city itself relies on those rare parking spaces that are free of the over-governing and vignettes and regulations for us to make that work and get working inside in decent time (usually from our regular workplace, not from home, individual planning is neither a problem or a solution here). On paper the problem doesn’t exist because we’re supposedly taxied in emergency vehicles with sirens and whatnot. But in reality when we’re needed there we need emergency vehicles on emergency calls more than at any other times so we have to rely on personnal vehicles (and management doesn’t issue VIP stickers anymore as people know -in fact it even denies they ever officially existed-). So when we get there on forced overtime working for the city to make things safe for Plateau and Montreal residents, we’re not residents. We and our employer (the city itself) fall under Alex’s category of “freeloaders” (heck, we’re costing the city money on top of that!).

    Of course the city could set aside a few spaces for us in their parking lots (right now the adjacent lot is part fire department and police vehicles and the rest is rented to citizens) but we go there about a dozen time a year and are about 20 people at times. With carpooling that’s just 5-7 spaces but why make that unavailable for residents the rest of the year? Giving out coupons wouldn’t work with current guidelines either (we can’t get taxi coupons without upper management pre-authorization and yet taxi companies report the coupons, everything is checked and accounted for).

    In parking as in other urban problems, you need a bit of free “wild” space to buffer for unplanned and ungovernable events or situations. A party that has such an “organic” grassroot way of operating like Projet Montreal should have no problem grasping that. Hopefully exercising power won’t lead to viewing everything as a planning decision to make at the borough council because life (and even central city services in my case!) just doesn’t work that way.

  13. Edward, what in heaven’s name is a “city of cars”?

    We are a city of people, last time I’ve heard. And we do have a métro system, though it doesn’t go everywhere.

    Lots of people travel to cities where it is absolutely impossible to drive. Walkability and good public transport are even a tourist attraction.

  14. Things change Edward, and the future for a car-driven (ha) society is not bright. It’s simply unsustainable in the long term.

    Secondly, when you look at alot of the new stores that have opened up in and around Park ave, they are small owner-run boutiques or cafés that cater to the local arts & culture scene. The economy of this street is growing in a distinctively local way.

  15. True Leila, but even the utterly-non-arty businesses such as small supermarkets on avenue du Parc rely heavily on pedestrian traffic. It is practically impossible to park outside PA, but it is always utterly full of customers. And since the Intermarché farther north between St-Viateur and Bernard has renovated and seems better stocked and cleaner, it is developing a very stong local customer base as well.

    There are also a lot of pharmacies on avenue du Parc.

    One major car-heyday mistake corrected in recent years was precisely the notorious échangeur av des Pins-av du Parc. It is still too bare (this has often been discussed on this board) but is certainly an improvement – and would make a tramline feasable.

  16. The strategy of hiking a discretionary fee instead of raising taxes is generally used in more right-leaning municipal administrations, and decried by those on the left. Here we have perhaps the most strongly left-wing local authority in North America using the same approach, but to promote a distinctly different set of priorities. The difference is, of course, that the Plateau isn’t charging for access to parks, rec centers, and other services that are regarded as part of the municipal commons, so to speak. It’s a sensible move, but it’s an interesting political conjunction.

    There’s also an elephant in the room here: many of the communities of the Plateau (ethnic, cultural and otherwise) are becoming more suburban. As the older generation sell their properties or pass on to their just reward, their children and grandchildren — many of whom are living farther out on the Island and in Laval — still want to retain a connection with the old neighbourhood. When they come into town from these auto-oriented suburban areas, they’ll use a car to get there, as they would to get anywhere else. So when “newcomers” start attacking the way they travel, it can be perceived as an attack on the life their parents built here, and their attachment to the place itself.

    The evident region-wide popularity of Plateau commercial strips also indicates that we need to be thinking more seriously about how to diversify neighbourhood retail offerings in suburban areas. We also need to look at improving transit connections in off-peak and weekend periods to accommodate a 24/7 flow of workers and visitors traveling to and from the Plateau and other central neighbourhoods.

    (And Maria, please keep name-dropping poujadism! It’s a dead-on and handy catchphrase for a lot of the grumpy rightist thought that is floating around Quebec these days, and I usually only get confused looks when I use it.)

  17. I strongly urge everyone to read mayor Ferrandez’ blog post linked by Devin above. If you don’t read french, here’s a link to a machine translated version:

    I find it very strnage that a lot of comments imply that new parking permit policies would prevent car-driving shoppers from reaching their destination. Aren’t virtually all shopping streets already equipped by parking meters? New parking permits on residential streets wouldn’t change anything for shoppers.

    It is quite conceivable that streets with permits could include free time-limited parking (San Francisco is an example). As in: Free 2h except for permit holders. That way people can still use side streets for errands, Communauto, etc… but workers who want to park for 9h would need either to get a paid parking spot or get a permit from the borrough (issueing permits for non-residents is being looked at).

    Also, the administration seems quite aware that a lot of folks do not own cars, yet use Communauto or rent cars more or less regularly. I’m sure provisions will be made for that.


    PS: This is an whole other topic, but proximity retail in suburban areas is often “illegal” due to zoning laws. These laws meticulously segregate “residential” from “commercial”.

  18. Like Xavier said, people should read the mayor’s blog post. He campaigned on these policies, and a lot of us are very glad they’re actually keeping their promises.

    Anyone feigning surprise or resorting to name calling loses all credibility.

  19. “… and residents will find it easier to park their vehicles with the increase in zoned parking and less outsiders using the formally free spaces …”

    I wonder if that would translate into to more residents purchasing cars. I suspect some residents don’t have cars largely because of the existing constraints on parking.

    Hopefully, they also plan to _remove_ parking spaces altogether, and repurpose the space with reserved bus lanes, bike paths, wider sidewalks, etc.

  20. I don’t live in the Plateau, but across town. I work on music and rehearse with friends at their place in the eastern Plateau, and have done so for quite a few months now. My gear is heavy, and thus I use my car to bring it there. (It’s also our sole means to transport us and our stuff to places we play.)

    Thus I need to and do park for a few hours at a time on their street, which has open parking (and there’s always at least a couple of spots open, so apparently I’m not competing for scarce spots.) Taking my gear on a bus (let alone on a bike!) is not an option, and using taxis would be way too expensive to do constantly. Otherwise in my daily life I use my OPUS carte mensuelle to get around. I do nearly all of my shopping and nightlife via public transit, but some people forget that not every activity can be done via bus/Metro or bikes. Some of us have legitimate heavy transport needs, and we’re not freeloaders.

    So, anyway, I wouldn’t mind if I had to pay for some sort of non-resident permit so I could continue to park on their street when I need to, but if the only options, especially in winter, are parking some blocks away in some scarce commercial spot near stores (which are at least two long blocks away at minimum from their particular block), or some lot equally far from their residential street, it would be extremely inconvenient at best. Yes, I could double-park to load in and out and then go searching far afield for a spot afterward, but I’d also rather not add to the congestion in the way that does (their street is fairly busy at times.) Since there has always been a spot available near their place every time I go over there, why couldn’t I just have a “guest sticker” – it could even be for just their immediate neighbourhood – so I can continue to park nearby, out of the way of traffic, and, btw, saving the extra time and gas I’d be using driving around more to find a spot?

    BTW, I’m happy Projet won the Plateau.

  21. Let’s look at this from a more moderate perspective, instead of “all cars are bad” and “visitors are just gentrifying the Plateau”.

    The economy of the Plateau does not only rely on locals. It relies on visitors from other neighborhoods and even from around the world.

    Though the policy is a good one long-term, it should be pursued slowly, over 2-3 years. As much as I am opposed to a car-centric mentality, such a sudden change, if well-publicized, could ostracize people who visit/work in the Plateau. It could affect the neighborhood’s economy.

    If implemented incrementally, car-drivers will slowly become used to the new parking fees or slowly come to realize that public transit is the best way to get to the Plateau. Rome wasn’t built in one day.

    The best example of incrementalism is Copenhagen. It has spent 40 years to slowly pedestrianize its downtown and build a bike infrastructure. Their population that used to love cars has slowly adapted into the most bike and ped friendly in the world. Very few people like revolutionary change. And they will react to it vociferously if it is rammed down their throats.

    Bixi too is working incrementally. They began in areas that they knew would succeed and are slowly expanding. Suburbanites and auto-philes are witnessing a progressive change that is easier to swallow than a sudden shut-down of all highways.

    Though us urbanites can appreciate the joys of pedestrian life and cycling, it takes time to change the minds of others. Be patient (and crafty) friends.

  22. JohnL: I *am* patient, and I appreciate the joys of pedestrianism; I am a pedestrian most of the time: I enjoy both the perspective and the freedom it affords:

    Perspective: I’ve long felt that one cannot truly know *any* city without walking it. Even a bicycle is a machine which mediates one’s experience by taking one’s full attention away from one’s overall surroundings, as it involves an increased rate of speed which entails “hmm, look out for that car, look out for this pedestrian”. I’ve found many North American cities deficient by the walking standard; Montréal is already a much more walkable city than most I’ve known.

    Freedom: no “Where do I put my car once I’ve arrived here?” or “Hmm, now where did I park again?”, or “damn, gotta go feed the loonie-sucking beast again…” Obvious, and desirable, even weighed against the increase in travel time by public transport.

    I’m quite willing, as I said above, to pay for some sort of non-resident permit.


    As I noted above (as “musician with sore back”), I have a real need, on occasion, to park on my friends’ block in the Plateau, a need whose underlying need – to move my heavy musical gear, from my place two arrondissements away, to their apartment (btw, fear not – we use headphones while rehearsing) for periods in excess of two hours at a time – cannot be met by public transport (and certainly not by bicycle!), and not affordably or efficiently (the wait time for taxi to show up) by taxi. Currently, it’s an efficient arrangement in which I do not have to spew more CO2, etc., or add to more congestion, however briefly, because of having to circle the neighbourhood looking for a spot, since, as I noted above, there have always been at least several spots available on their immediate block, usually within a few doors of their place. If the new regulations end up prohibiting me from parking anywhere near their place, i.e., only in certain designated areas, e.g., in some lot or along some commercial strip necessarily far from their street, forcing me to double park to load in, the current efficiency will be lost, resulting in an inevitable increase of my contribution to pollution and congestion. Regardless of how much I might pay for a permit fee to park in those other places, I fear an unintended adverse effect if this situation is not handled wisely.

    The underlying point to my objection is that one must be very careful in attempting to categorize citizens’ behaviour for the purpose of regulating it; indeed, it is not even possible to fully anticipate people’s needs and thus their behaviour. Flexibility has to be built in; indeed, it is flexibility in the practice of laws, and a recognition of their finite scope, that distinguishes a free, civilized society from an authoritarian police state.

    Thus, morcego’s point above is well taken:

    “In parking as in other urban problems, you need a bit of free “wild” space to buffer for unplanned and ungovernable events or situations.”

    It’s a matter of governing philosophy: does Projet believe that *everything* is “governable”? To paraphrase Derrida on the singularity of justice: there will always be the unanticipated, the unforeseeable, the singular situation, the novel fact that requires a novel response. To suppose that one *can* anticipate all situations is profoundly hubristic, and to abdicate, to a mere rule or algorithm which presumes to have taken into account all possibilities, one’s responsibility to respond to the unanticipated, to the specific needs of one’s fellow citizens, is to fail in one’s duty to the citizens one represents. Flexibility, in the form of a modest circumscribing of the *scope* of regulations, as well as in their implementation and enforcement, is essential, *not* antithetical, to fairness and justice.

    Thus, I hope that a paid permit system for non-residents can be phased in which does *not* ultimately result in the simultaneously unfair and inefficient scenario I outlined.

  23. I am a plateau resident and I don’t own a car, but I rent one maybe 3 or 4 times a year and I am very much in favour of this idea. What I don’t understand is the rhetoric here saying people won’t be able to park in the Plateau anymore. They will be able to park, just not for free. So pay for your parking! What’s so hard about that? The parking you get is a result of a road being built, maintained and cleaned which costs society money, so why shouldn’t you pay for it? In effect, this is taking the expenses off the backs of the local taxpayers (many who may not even use the roads regularly) and distributing it onto the people who use them.

    And hippe car-free future or not, the reality is that the resources needed to power a vehicle are getting more and more expensive. If you want your own privated vehicle, you are going to have to pay for it and it’s going to get more expensive. Get used to it or change, drivers!

  24. Of course the other side of this question, one that cannot be solved in a single arrondissement, is the need for more and better public transport. I know I often sing the praises of modern trams, (from experience in Europe) but it is because they are very accessible to people of limited mobility and to parents with small children, and for “hauling stuff” – perhaps not everything that has to be hauled, but quite a bit of it.

    Of course parking is needed for delivery vehicles (including musicians and artists delivering their tools or production), emergency vehicles (including the private vehicles sometimes used as such) and other imponderables. None of these things have been banned in Amsterdam or Copenhagen – nor has parking for private cars, though of course it is rarer and more expensive, with the corrolary of good public transport – and bicycles – used by people of all social categories and ages (there is some drop in bicycle use in Copenhagen when the winter is as harsh and snowy as it is now – it is like here right now).

  25. Right on Leila, the unsustainability of a car-driven society is undeniable, and makes this parking “issue” a moot point. Now all we need is residents and commerce owners to get involved and get creative instead of simply voicing their concern.

  26. JohnL said: “the economy of the Plateau doesn’t rely on locals”

    I doubt that. If all residents packed up and left tomorrow, I doubt that Plateau business would keep on humming.

    As great as the Jean-Coutu near my place is, I doubt that people actually drive from Boisbriand to get toilet paper there.


  27. The issue is free parking as walkerp pointed out. Things like congestion pricing on our freeways will be here soon, so this seems like some kind of little resistance thing before the realities of car travel in the 21st century kick in. Parking meters have been around pretty much since day one and it was the promise of free and plentiful hassle-free parking that was a huge part of the package that encouraged urban sprawl and car dependence in the first place. Cars create tons of pollution just in looking-for-parking mode. No one has ever insisted that automobile drivers are going to like changing their habits anymore than smokers wanted to head outside, but the time is here.

  28. If local merchants want their customers to have free parking, let them pay for it.

    Just like they do in the ‘burbs.

    When was the last time you parked on the street when you went shopping at Fairview? Never, because parking is prohibited on all four streets that border it…

  29. I’m a Plateau resident and like many do not own a car, also like many (and some commenters above) I do rent a car every once in a while and am a Communauto member.

    I think Kai the musician’s worry is justified, if you are coming to visit a resident then you should be able to park. I would like my parents (who live in America) to come and visit and be able to park somewhere near my appartment. An answer is to have a guest pass that each resident or apprtment or address in the borough is issued (upon request, perhaps a modest fee) which can be hung on the rearview mirror (or placed on the dash) of cars that those residents rent or for visitors. Other cities in North America have this concept, stickers for the cars of residents and these guest passes for guests/visitors. I was surprised when I moved to Montreal that they did not exist here. The reason cited by the city was a lack of parking. Great. That’s why I wanted the guest pass.

    It seems obvious also that Communauto cars stationed in lots within the non-free parking region be issued with parking permit stickers otherwise how useful are the cars?

    The concept of paying for parking in boroughs that you don’t live in has been around in London (UK) for while and it works well. The boroughs are large (such as all of Camden, or all of Southwark) and actual residents can avoid paying for parking even when on the other side of the borough. Seems to work well there, why not here?

    I’m no fan of cars but I do like my parents and I like music, so let’s not make life harder than it has to be.

  30. I agree with the posters who emphasized the importance of “phasing in” cycling and “phasing out” driving.

    I think this Plateau parking amendment is excellent because it is the logical place for any social Phase 1, and because it is an area that would work really well as a car-free zone – musicians with parking addictions aside.

  31. Fascinating discussion; a lot of good ideas here. I recognize that my “freeloaders” comment could have sounded harsh to those non-residents who have a legitimate need to park here on the Plateau and no offence was intended to these people; in using that term I primarily had in mind those who drive in from outside our community, use the Plateau as a free parking lot, then Bixi-bike, walk or take a quick bus ride to their jobs downtown, thus avoiding any the parking fees they’d otherwise have had to pay even as they clog up our streets all day long. That said, I recognize that some non-Plateau residents do have a legitimate need to park on the Plateau and our policy will have to be sensitive to their needs. Also worth clarifying is an error in the original Rad-Can story: that story claimed wrongly that we had indicated we would be eliminating all free parking spaces on the Plateau. We never said that; all we said is that the number of free parking spots would be reduced. Nonetheless, the error got repeated by many media outlets.
    On the whole, though, we have been heartened by the outpouring of support we have received from Plateau residents concerning our new approach to parking policy. Alex Norris, City Councillor, Mile End district

  32. Frankly this is great news, I hope they charge $10 an hour for parking, this way I won’t have to circle the block to find a spot. Either way the plateau is heading towards an imminent collapse like all great neighbors before it.

    There’s some serious delusion going on in some of the above comments. The plateau is far from being self-sufficient. It’s an entertainment business district, and by definition such a concept can not be self-sustaining.

    The argument about banishing cars, because they’re “unsustainable”, is completely irrelevant. Personal transportation is a form of freedom. New cost efficient none polluting technologies will be attainable in the near future. Taxing people to oblivion is not a solution, it just eliminates a symptom but not the problem.

    Furthermore, rent and taxes in the plateau are increasing at an alarming rate, most artists that made the neighborhood for what it is known today, have long been gone. They couldn’t afford the costs of living anymore. Besides a few apartment houses where clueless young students live with 4 roommates and pay 1700$ for a run down 4 1/2, while proclaiming to be maintaining their utopian ideologies by taking a bike to school. The neighborhood has by large turned into a middle-upper class fonctionnaire neighborhood. So all this bylaw will do is provide those individuals with more reliable parking spaces, just like similar bylaws did in Outremont and Westmount. It’s not a question of saving the environment, so let’s cut that thinly veiled bullcrap already.

  33. Thanks for checking in, Councillor Norris! I second cheese’s suggestion of a guest pass (or equivalent), perhaps issued to the resident(s) whom one intends to visit, although the alternative of a visitor-pegged permit might make sense too (musicians like me who might have multiple destinations: bars and clubs a well as where we rehearse – but it also might be more easily abused than a pass system pegged to households.

    The city of Westmount does a version of this for their resident only streets. (When I first moved here and was looking for a place, I stayed with a family friend in the “poor” section of that burg and I had to go over to their parking office, fill out a form (who and where I was visiting), and get a time-limited pass to hang in my car. A reasonable inconvenience which I’m sure discourages abuse by faux-visitors.

    When I lived in Cambridge, Mass. near Harvard Square, right after college (Berklee), they had a two guest passes per household policy. You simply applied for them and got them as a one time thing, with no expiration. It was basically a large piece of cardboard one put on one’s dash. It’s a very dense area with some free parking, but not quite as short on parking as the Plateau. For the Plateau I think it would be reasonable to limit such passes to one per household. Again, I’m not sure which version of guest pass system might be best.

    It occurs to me that if they are issued to residents, then it leaves the decision as to who pays the fee for the pass up to the residents and their guests: in my case I’d gladly reimburse my not-wealthy friends (who aren’t among the “most artists” Jack thinks are gone: let’s not be premature in the obit for the creatives in the Plateau) for a pass. In other cases, a resident might accept the cost, as when they have elderly pensioner parents coming to visit.

    Just because other Montreal administrators (Tremblay’s cronies?) have dismissed the idea of guest passes on the grounds of “no spaces”, it doesn’t mean the more thoughtful urbanistes of Projet can’t re-examine the idea more closely.

  34. Jack said: “The plateau is far from being self-sufficient. It’s an entertainment business district”

    Hold on here. Plateau isn’t Ville-Marie.

    At 5443 residents/km2, Ville-Marie relies heavily on it’s skyscrapers filled with out-of-borrough office workers, on Bell Centre, Place-des-arts, future “Quartier des Spectacles”, Old-Montreal tourists, Cité-du-multimedia, Quartier Latin, Jazz Fest, Juste-pour-rire, F1 races, etc… THAT’s an entertainment/business district.

    At 12 475 residents/km2, Plateau doesn’t have any major office tower clusters or big ticket destinations.

    Yes, Plateau has businesses. It also has entertainment. Guess what? It also has residents. It’s called a complete neighbourhood.

    Thinking that 100% of Plateau business is done with residents is delusionnal, I agree. But thinking that out-of-borrough shoppers and workers drive-in daily to shower Plateau with their money is equally delusionnal.

    And speaking of delusions, none is bigger than the “green” car. In North America, electric cars are in effect coal-powered cars. Even if cars emitted harmless strawberry sented fumes, we’d still have problems with cars in places like Plateau. Magical pollution-free cars still:

    – cause congestion
    – need lots of space to travel quickly (wider roads) and for parking (space that could be used for better uses such as public transit, housing, offices, shops, wider sidewalks, parks, etc…)
    – cause major safety problems to pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists.
    – create lots of noise. (At city speeds, I’d say 90% of the noise isn’t engines, it’s tires on the road, so electric will help, but it wont solve that).


  35. @Xavier: I respect your point of view, but I’d like to clarify a couple things. Firstly, I intended say that a large part of revenue generated in the district comes from businesses which provide entertainment, such as: bars, restaurants, clubs, and speciality shops. These businesses generate large tax revenues for the city. Any negative impact on them will be reflected in the city’s revenue and consequently higher taxes, so it’s a zero sum game. The lack of tourists this past year partially accounts for the short falls they’re trying to make up with these parking measures.

    Congestion cannot be eliminated since the plateau is geographically positioned in an area which is vital to the flow of traffic on the island. So if you want peace and quite you have to pick a secluded street. Turning roads into parks and offices, is a bit of farfetched idea since we can’t even find investors for the empty lands and rundown properties we have right now.

    Battery technology is becoming more efficient, so those magical pollution free cars are not all that farfetched. Coal power is not the only energy resource available out there and the plant’s emissions can be stored and cleaned. New infrastructure for cheap energy is possible with the appropriate investments as well, never underestimate innovation! Especially here in Quebec where our hydro based resource is plentiful and still largely underused. In the end, this is nothing more but an additional tax on the population, and at this rate I hope they buy more buses and bixis since soon enough most people won’t be able to afford cars anyway.

  36. Re: residents vs. bars and shops. Could someone chime in with actual numbers here? What is the percentage of the Plateau tax base that comes from residents vs. businesses?

    Talking about decreasing tax bases, what about the other side of the coin? Cramming more cars in the neighbourhood is an excellent way to decrease tax revenues too. Make the place so noisy, unsafe, congested and polluted that not a single rational person would choose to live here. Then see what happens to tax revenue. (For a quick preview, see Detroit). What do you think would happen to property values on St-Joseph if that boulevard got narrowed to one lane in each direction and the free space was converted to a wide grassy shoulder with trees?

    “Furthermore, rent and taxes in the plateau are increasing at an alarming rate,[…] and pay 1700$ for a run down 4 1/2”

    “we can’t even find investors for the empty lands and rundown properties we have right now.”

    So which is it? In one sentence you say that the housing market is booming and commanding record high rents and in another that it’s so bust that nobody wants to invest here. It can’t be both at the same time.

    “Turning roads into parks and offices, is a bit of farfetched idea ”

    If we could turn entire neighbourhoods into roads in the 60s, I don’t see why we can’t decide collectively to do the opposite. The poster child example of this is the Embarcadero in San Francisco.

    A more recent example is the transformation of Times Square in New York.

    Anyways, my point was that GHGs are only one small fraction of the problems generated by cars. Besides emissions, electric cars solve nothing at all.

    “New infrastructure for cheap energy is possible”

    What are we talking about here? Unicorn blood?

    “never underestimate innovation!”

    Never underestimate geology and the laws of physics. Even with efficient batteries, it takes a lot of energy to move a one ton vehicle to accomodate a 170 lbs human.

    “The lack of tourists this past year partially accounts for the short falls they’re trying to make up with these parking measures.”

    I think the real culprit for the deficit is record snowfall and associated snow removal… another HUGE cost associated with car accomodation.

    Implying that parking is some sort of tourist catnip is nonsense. The biggest tourist cities in the world are impossible to park. London, Paris, San Francisco, New York city are all parking nightmares yet draw record amounts of tourism. Even here in Mtl, Old Montreal is the worst part of town for parking, yet it’s the biggest tourist hot spot. Maybe tourists actually aren’t interested in talking pictures of parking lots? Crazy, huh?


  37. As a former plateau resident (McGill Ghetto), I can tell you that outsiders are already thoroughly discouraged from parking anywhere in the borough. Given the lack of parking spaces and the absurdly complicated and often unclear signage, my friends averaged about $20 per visit in parking tickets.

    Zoned parking systems in the plateau have failed the public, perhaps they should be scrapped, as they give preferential status to already wealthy residents. To be fair, all parking, if it is so scarce must be charged according to its inherent value.

  38. Qatzelok said: “musicians with parking addictions aside.”

    Did you read nothing any of us said? Are you just dense? I made it clear that I and those like me have a genuine need to move heavy loads and that cars are the only viable option. I alos pointed out more than once that when I don’t have the need to move heavy loads, I’m a pedestrian.

    That’s hardly an addiction.

    Also, there are a finite number of folks like me – a small number compared to the many commuters and visitors who DO have public transport options. And there are a finite number, likely also proportionately small, of out-of-town visitors who come to see family or friends in the Plateau. You want to make 70+-year-old pensioners park in some expensive lot downtown and take the Metro and busses just to visit their children? Really?

    You obviously haven’t considered the ramifications of a blanket, one-size-fits-all policy (not that Projet is doing anything so crude as your attitude would entail.) Your comment is an ignorant snipe which proposes nothing constructive.

  39. I don’t know what to think of this new idea. Although I do not personally own a car, I do use one on weekends to get to work.I work in the Plateau and there is no provided parking for any of the employees in the building. Recently they removed 4 parking spots that we were used to taking on weekends. Now, we are left with running during our lunch and coffee breaks to move our cars which only makes our managers angry when we are late. Some of my coworkers come from outside the island. They have up to 2 hours of commuting to get to work. Should we base where we work on available parking? I think this idea needs to be refined. It has some good and some bad to it.

  40. From an ideological perspective the idea that some have put forward, whereby driving is heavily discouraged through the use of high, blanket fees for parking in the plateau, is, effectively a regressive tax on residents of the region who choose to use the plateau. Assuming that the widespread use of the cars will not evaporate once this plan is implemented, the higher costs of parking will be felt most severely by lower income people. Sure, everyone has the choice to take transit, however, this choice is most directly forced upon lower income earners.

    When parking becomes excessively constrained, new development becomes exclusively oriented to the high-end as the cost of providing integrated parking to potential buyers rises. If we’re hoping to develop balanced neighborhoods for different family sizes, income levels and lifestyles, then ‘free’ parking has a role to play.

    I agree that use of the plateau as a parking lot for people commuting downtown should be discouraged. Why not just convert the parking spaces to 2 or 4 hour time limited free parking? Perhaps other alternatives are not explored because part of this is an attempt by the borough to balance their budgets on the backs of a particular section of society, one that some people feel should have their rights severely curtailed (NB, obviously car owners currently enjoy disproportionate infrastructure investment across Canada as a whole. Does this apply to the plateau in particular).

    The solution to car-dependance and the wasteful nature of our society does not lie in extreme solutions within a confined area like the plateau. A broader land-use and transportation strategy is needed. Absent a more comprehensive mechanism to address the various forces that effect how people move about the city and where new development takes place, heavy-handed strategies such as the one proposed will merely become a disproportionate burden on poorer visitors and residents of the plateau, and will only serve to further encourage residential and commercial development in the 450.

    Switch Mont-Royal and Duluth to pedestrian-only, switch free parking to time-limited parking, and continue the excellent initiatives with Bixi and STM and we’ll continue our move to better urbanism. Great cities have great diversity, cars have a role to play in them.

    Personally, i own a car and drive to work, as an urban planner assisting cities and developers across North America. I frequently work 12-14 hour days and appreciate the quicker travel time driving affords me. Perhaps my preference for travel by car has completed clouded my judgement on this issue, i do know that ideologues make poor planners. Ironically, the environmental impact of the 15 tanks of gas i buy a year to drive my car pales in comparison with the impact of the flights i take to attend conferences on urban planning and sustainable development.

    I hope the borough finds a reasonable response to this. I also hope that whatever solution is implemented will result in increased success for the many brave small business owners whose life’s work is tied up in their plateau shop, cafe, restaurant or bar.

  41. Montreal is not southern California with year-round nice weather. If you think people are going to stand around waiting for a bus in winter (or late fall or early spring) to take them to Le Plateau, you’re dreaming. Besides, Le Plateau is a destination that draws Montrealers from all parts of the city. Talking about it like it’s a local neighbourhood spot (like Monkland Village in NDG, for example) is a basic distortion of reality. Being hard on people coming to Le Plateau by car is going to hurt the entire area, and make a very popular destination much less attractive to the millions of Montrealers who live outside the area. Seems to me people like Ferrandez want to have their cake and eat it too–they want a vibrant neighbourhood that draws people from all over, and then discriminates against them. It won’t work.

  42. This is indeed a terrible idea. Both tourists and friends/family who want to visit Montreal by car will have nowhere to park. The current system is already fine – residents have reserved spots, and a few spots are for anyone who might be visiting.

    I agree with others that this policy will harm the city. Tourism will decrease because the city will be inhospitable to auto travelers. City residents can no longer have their family or friends visit, because there is nowhere to store their car. So the end result is unhappy people next to restaurants and stores with no customers. Great plan for the economy.

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