Parking costs are out of control!
By: Dan Laxer – mtltimes.ca
Back in 1957, the last time this city drafted a parking policy, cars were bigger, with parking spaces to match, gas was less expensive than water, and heading downtown held some caché. And that was the way it was for years, even into the late 1980’s, when neighbourhood movie theatres, like the Kent, Claremont, and Snowdown Theatres, the Piccadilly, and the Van Horne all started closing as big multiplexes started popping up in the downtown core.
The Cavendish Mall is now a shadow of its former self, Decarie Square is a squalid little place, and now that Murray’s has faded into the distant past, is there any real reason to venture over to the TMR Shopping Centre? Malls in St. Laurent and the West Island have plenty to attract shoppers from all over. But Rockland Centre is still like shopping in the mid-1960s.
Contrary to what doomsday politicians have been saying for a couple of decades, Montrealers still manage to find their way downtown, despite the crumbling infrastructure, almost constant bumper-to-bumper traffic, and, yes, the parking rates. So I don’t know what Michel Leblanc, Chairman of the Montreal Chamber of Commerce, is talking about when he says that consumers are flocking to the suburbs. What suburbs? The Monkland Village? Monkland attracts people, lots of ‘em, because it’s fun! It’s got stores, shops, cafes, restaurants, bars, frozen yogurt, and two fantastic summer street festivals! Parking and public transit have little or nothing to do with it, because most of the time people leave their cars at home, and just walk.
Leblanc blames the parking rates for what he sees, I’m sure, as the downtown core’s impending demise. Some also point toward the dearth of sufficient parking spaces and the much-to-be-desired public transit service.
I’m okay with public transit. I use it every day. It’s fast, it’s easy. Could it be improved? Sure! Some buses have signs extolling the number of cars that each packed bus takes off the road. What they don’t tell you is that there isn’t enough room on the existing buses to accommodate the number of former drivers that now squeeze onto them.
We’re not likely to see a change in parking policy anytime soon. M. Le Maire has held — what is it – three public consultations on the subject so far. Maybe he’ll hold a few more, and then hold a news conference while sitting behind the wheel of an articulated bus, saying “Woohoo! Look at me! I’m on a bus!” He’ll take a few selfies with passengers and transit workers before scurrying off in his little hard-hat, and that’ll be it.
The cost of parking won’t go down. Neither will transit fares. But they will figure out how to cram more of us onto the buses and metros while warning us to “degagez les portes.”
As for motorists, most of them love their cars, and will still dole out $3.00 an hour to park downtown. Especially now that everyone’s got the Stationnement de Montreal app on their phones.
If M. Leblanc has solutions, I’d love to hear them. In the meantime, I think he’s just spinning his wheels.