Montreal is pausing a project to expand the periods charged by parking meters in the city center, which had been started in the last few days by the Sustainable Mobility Agency (AMD). The Plante administration deplores in particular not having had the time to discuss with the commercial community.

“It’s an administrative boondoggle. What happened is very regrettable, but it is a matter of sequencing. The Agency left very quickly, a little alone on its side, on the operation of the stickers. As soon as we had the information, we put the operation on hold, the time to do things in the right order, ”says the transport manager on the executive committee, Sophie Mauzerolle.

First seen this weekend downtown, these new stickers indicated that the parking meters would now be in effect on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m., while the current schedule is more like 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. On Saturdays, the tariffed period would now be from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., compared to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. previously, and on Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., while the current tariffed schedule is from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. .

Deploring the “confusion”, Ms. Mauzerolle nevertheless recognizes that there is indeed an “intention” of the City behind this project. “Our goal, ultimately, is to allow more traffic on the commercial arteries. We see at the moment that there are many people who pay the last hour of the parking meter and who stay there all night. That’s not what we want,” she said.

As early as February, an internal note obtained by La Presse and sent by the director of the Urban Planning and Mobility Department, Lucie Careau, clearly stated these changes to come. In particular, it is argued that the extension of the city center time slots is planned “from April 1, 2023, where demand remains strong outside the tariff periods”.

“By being more consistent with the opening hours of bars, restaurants and other attractions, these new time slots will increase the availability of on-street parking spaces and improve mobility downtown,” writes Ms. Careau in his missive.

The new time slots, according to Ms. Careau in her note, will be Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m., Saturday between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. and Sunday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. These are the same times that were seen on the new stickers.

“Now our intention is to do the usual spin. In the coming days and weeks, we will take the steps that have unfortunately been skipped. We are going to talk to the SDCs, to the merchants, to explain to them the purpose of the policy, to hear their concerns. And if there are adjustments to be made, we will make them, ”said Sophie Mauzerolle again.

At the Société de développement commercial Montréal centre-ville, general manager Glenn Castanheira deplores a “fuzzy” process. “It really looks like it went between two chairs. Themselves, at the City, didn’t seem too aware of that. And we were never consulted,” he laments.

His group is calling for a “minimum one-year moratorium before changing schedules, so we can have a proper discussion.”

“We don’t want to have a discussion when the decision is already made,” continues Mr. Castanheira, who favors modular parking pricing. “It’s a best practice, it allows for more affordable parking where it’s less busy, and redirects people. That said, extending until 9 a.m. on Sundays and 11 p.m. on weekdays, we do not understand it at all, ”he insists.

In the opposition benches, leader Aref Salem did not fail to condemn the situation. “With Projet Montréal, it’s the same thing every time: we set up, we inform and we consult at the end. Everything is finely orchestrated to quietly swallow a new tax in disguise to the citizens, ”he insists.

“The administration may say that it will consult the partners and that it is a simple mess, its decision has already been made, as evidenced by the budget and a directive sent to the boroughs last February,” insisted Mr. Salem, lamenting that “these new time slots are deplorable and harmful” and that “the administration must commit to abolishing this decision”.