After putting it aside this spring, the Plante administration is moving forward with its project to extend the paid hours of on-street parking in downtown Montreal. From November, parking meters will be charged until 11 p.m. from Monday to Saturday, in five key areas. The measure will bring in an additional $5 million annually.
This was confirmed by the City at the start of the day on Friday in a press release, saying it wanted to “optimize parking management” and “support commercial vitality as well as mobility”. Montreal thus wants to allow a “greater turnover” of vehicles on commercial arteries.
Five sectors will be targeted initially. It is essentially a vast area covering most of Old Montreal and a good part of the south of the city center. The City refused to specify on Friday whether this perimeter could be extended to other sectors or districts of the island.
The five targeted sectors
- Rue Guy/Rue Sherbrooke West/Avenue du Parc/Boulevard René-Lévesque West
- Guy Street/René-Lévesque Boulevard West/Saint-Hubert Street/Saint-Antoine and Saint-Jacques Streets
- Saint-Laurent Boulevard/Sherbrooke Street West/Saint-Hubert Street/René-Lévesque Boulevard West
- Boulevard Robert-Bourassa/rue Saint-Antoine/rue de la Commune
- Avenue du Parc/Rue Sherbrooke Ouest/Boulevard Saint-Laurent/Boulevard René-Lévesque
On weekdays, from November 15, you will therefore have to pay for a parking space from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., whereas the current schedule was rather from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. On Saturday, the paid period will be from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., and no longer 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Please note: on Sundays, the priced schedule will remain for the moment from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. There was talk in the spring of opting for a range from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The installation of stickers announcing upcoming schedules will begin within a few days. In a press release, the Sustainable Mobility Agency (AMD), responsible for parking, specifies that “the vagaries of temperature and the possibility of cold weather were considered as factors that could complicate or even prevent the installation of stickers, where the affixing from mid-September”.
In total, the expansion of paid hours will bring in 5 million more to the City each year. “Of course, these are additional revenues that we anticipate, but the objective is not to make money,” assures the head of transport on the executive committee, Sophie Mauzerolle.
The primary goal is to encourage people to travel more often to generate more traffic in businesses. Otherwise, we have people who don’t go to bars and who stay in front of a parking meter all night.
Sophie Mauzerolle, responsible for transport on the executive committee
In the spring, the Plante administration backed down “until further notice” on the extension of tariff periods in the face of strong opposition from the business community. Montreal says today that it “took the time to meet” with merchants “to present to them the objectives of these new measures and to listen to their comments.” The City also claims to have agreed to increase the maximum payment time from three to five hours, at the request of merchants.
Traders “faced with a fait accompli”
The general director of the SDC Montreal downtown, Glenn Castanheira, offers a very different version of the facts. “We were presented with a fait accompli. Yes, we spoke with the City, but the decision was made on their side. We weren’t really there to say what we thought,” he maintains.
“Even today, we think that the City’s arguments do not demonstrate the relevance of moving forward,” adds Mr. Castanheira, who wonders “why is this only being done in the city center.” “If it’s really a question of commercial vitality, then they should do it everywhere,” he judges.
Before expanding the paid hours, the DG maintains that he “would especially have liked to see a project to pool parking spaces, which we have been promised since 2018, but which has still not been done”. “We are also and above all asking to improve the feeling of security in the metros. At the start of the year, the SPVM carried out a blitz and it was very positive. There, it’s over and the problems have returned. We must maintain a police presence in the metros, it is essential,” he persists.
In opposition, leader Aref Salem is also fuming. “Five million, if that’s not an indirect tax increase, I ask what is. And all this in a single district, that of the mayor,” he said Friday in the press scrum.
“We are penalizing people who are already in economic distress. We see inflation hitting, prices increasing dramatically and we are coming with a measure that has no meaning,” added Mr. Salem, also accusing the City of wanting to “wage war on the car” in all cost.
At the Montreal Regional Environmental Council (CRE-Montreal), however, we welcome the City’s decision. “If prices are too low and hours too restricted, parking will be congested, which will result in a loss of access for customers who really need to access by car,” maintains its mobility files manager, Blaise Remillard.
A program for the surroundings of the metro?
The official opposition also proposed on Friday the creation of a municipal program to secure the travel of pedestrians and cyclists near the city’s various metro stations. “Metro stations are major hubs that generate travel, which poses challenges and issues in terms of cohabitation,” said Councilor Alba Zuniga Ramos, of the Louis-Riel district. His party proposes to deploy this security program where the collision toll is the highest since 2018, i.e. around the Berri-UQAM, Jean-Talon, Guy-Concordia stations, but also Radisson, Frontenac, Peel, Côte-Vertu , Jarry, Joliette, Fabre, Namur, Henri-Bourassa, Square-Victoria–OACI and, finally, Vendôme. The opposition also urges the City to “equip itself with tools allowing it to evaluate the intersections to be secured as a priority.”