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Montreal could save $500M annually by nixing free parking, environmental group says

Montreal could save $500M annually by nixing free parking, environmental group says

A Montreal organization is proposing eliminating free parking spots and reducing the overall space taken up by parking in the city within the next 15 years.

The Conseil régional de l'environnement de Montréal (CRE-Montréal) environmental group has released a booklet of recommendations on parking, with the aim of helping the city reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve public transit and safety for cyclists.

The group says the roughly 450,000 parking spots on residential street costs taxpayers an average of $1,275 per year, totalling more than $500 million in costs to maintain, though 30 per cent of the city's households do not own a vehicle.

"It's a question of fairness because currently people who don't use their car to do groceries, they're still paying for those who are," said Blaise Rémillard, who oversees the group's transportation and urbanization initiatives.

CRE-Montreal suggests increasing the costs of residential parking vignettes and charging for temporary parking in those areas to make up for that price tag.

Five of the city's 19 boroughs don't charge for parking at all, while others require yearly parking vignettes ranging in cost from $11 to $250.

CBC
CBC

The organization says parking in Montreal is so affordable it almost encourages residents to own a car, especially following a reduction in public transit funding.

It says parking takes up 27 per cent of the city's roadways, 12 times more space than lanes reserved for buses and cycling.

Less parking, more housing

The proposals in CRE-Montreal's booklet include eliminating underused parking spaces and converting them into land for affordable housing, green spaces or wider sidewalks.

It also recommends creating an app that would track parking space availability so that drivers can plan their outings, instead of driving around to look for a spot.

The groups suggests implementing the recommendations between 2024 and 2035 — the year Quebec has earmarked to end the sale of new gas-powered vehicles.

WATCH | There's a whole history behind Montreal's confusing parking signs:

City councillor and member of Montreal's executive committee Sophie Mauzerolle says the administration welcomes the proposals as it is slated to release its urbanization plan for 2050 by next year.

"We're really thrilled to have this reflection on the policies we want to put in place," Mauzerolle said.

But eliminating free parking in the city won't happen anytime soon, she added.

"We're not there yet. Yes, there will be changes to parking costs in some areas, but it won't happen unilaterally," Mauzerolle said.

The city aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 55 per cent by 2030 and 90 per cent by 2050.