Free Street Parking In Montreal Could End — Literally Everywhere — Under A New Proposal

There are so many street parking spots in Montreal, they're basically a whole other borough.

Senior Editor
A kiosk for drivers to pay for street-parking spots in downtown Montreal.

A kiosk for drivers to pay for street-parking spots in downtown Montreal.

An environmental group is calling on Montreal to break the "vicious cycle" of car dependency in the city. And one of the ways it hopes to do that is by making drivers pay up for all the space they occupy.

In a report published Tuesday, the Conseil régional de l'environnement de Montréal (CRE) outlined 23 recommendations to achieve "more efficient, equitable and environmentally friendly mobility" in the urban agglomeration (the City of Montreal and on-island suburbs).

Among them, as La Presse first reported, is a call to enforce pricing on every single one of the 475,000 Montreal street parking spots in the city.

The CRE estimates that the city spends at least $1,275 per year on each street parking spot. It argues that charging drivers for every space would not only be a way to recoup that revenue, but also reframe the paradigm of a city that accommodates, even privileges, car ownership to the detriment of the urban environment.

Currently, the CRE writes in its report, "on-street parking sometimes seems to be considered a service provided by the city with the purchase of a private vehicle."

The result, it continues, is not only costly, but inefficient: "the presence of a large inventory of free parking locks many motorists into a time-consuming and irritating search for free spaces."

The CRE further argues that free parking inhibits developers from finding other solutions, thus also preventing the city from exploring other uses for its combined 15.3 square kilometres of on-street spots. As the CRE points out, that's only slightly smaller than the total area of the Rosemont–La-Petite-Patrie borough.

As for how to go about introducing citywide on-street parking prices, the group recommends a gradual approach with annual revenue targets. It says the city could then eliminate spaces that aren't profitable "because there are not enough drivers willing to pay a fair price for their use" and "assign these spaces a new function for the benefit of the community."

The CRE also raised the possibility of subsidies for low-income households and adjusting prices according to vehicle length, weight and carbon emissions.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Thomas MacDonald
Senior Editor
Thomas is MTL Blog's Senior Editor. He lives in Saint-Henri and loves it so much that he named his cat after it. On weekdays, he's publishing stories, editing and helping to manage MTL Blog's team of amazing writers. His beats include the STM, provincial and municipal politics and Céline Dion. On weekends, you might run into him brunching at Greenspot, walking along the Lachine Canal or walking Henri the cat in Parc Sir-George-Étienne-Cartier.
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