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Car Tempo Shelters – Eyesore or Necessity?

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Car Tempo Shelters – You either love them or you hate them. Popularly known as a ‘Tempo’ – the poly tarp covered, temporary structures pop up in driveways not long before the winter season starts, becoming a topic of conversation each year, and this year the conversation is proportional to the extreme weather we are having.

During the winter, people fortunate enough to park their cars inside garages still have a driveway to contend with and tempos certainly make it easier for them to get going – especially if one cannot afford a snow removal service. Having your own snow blower can help, but that still takes up precious time, often in bone-chilling temperatures and does little in icy conditions.

For those without garages, tempos could be a great stress saver, especially for the elderly and people with mobility issues. Nonetheless, some still see the shelters as major eyesores and would rather have them banned altogether.

Tempos are really not esthetically pleasing, that’s true – but neither are the piles of dirty snow, laced with salt and rocks, which many snow removal contractors blatantly dump against cars parked on the street, effectively imprisoning them.

There are boroughs and municipalities in the Greater Montreal area where tempos are permitted, but there are plenty of areas, especially in the West Island, where they are prohibited – including the municipalities of Beaconsfield, Dollard des Ormeaux, Pointe Claire, Kirkland and Baie D’urfee. They are allowed in the borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro and the municipalities of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue and Dorval. In town, the municipality of Cote St. Luc and the boroughs of Saint-Laurent and Ville-Marie do not permit them.

Rationale for the bans include safety and crime prevention. The main concern is visibility, not only because of crime (people can easily hide inside one) but also due to safety issues concerning cars backing out and not being able to see pedestrians or other cars going by. But there has been a solution to that for years – tempos come with windows. Another concern is the weight of snow or ice that can accumulate on top of them – if not well-maintained it could cause the structures to cave in, injuring or trapping someone underneath.

A complaint often heard by those who would have them banned altogether is that ‘they are ugly’ and ‘make the neighbourhood look bad’ and in turn, lower property values. Upon first impression, driveways with tempos lined up in a row could reduce the attractiveness of a property for sale, lessening it’s ‘curb appeal’ to a potential buyer.

If your area does allow tempos, please consult your borough or municipal bylaws concerning permits and rules that must be observed about installation, size, frame and load-bearing capacity – otherwise you may receive a hefty fine or even be forced to take it down.

One way or another, winter is here to stay – and with it comes snow, ice, freezing rain and pellets. Trying to get to work on time, dropping off children at daycare centres, trying to push a baby carriage or a wheelchair down a snow-packed, icy driveway will not get any easier. In fact, our winters are predicted to get even more challenging.

What is your opinion? Are the shelters an eyesore or a necessity?

Bonnie Wurst – info@mtltimes.ca

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