Montreal

With parking scarce, some CDN-NDG residents say permit price hikes are unfair

In a five-to-one vote Monday, the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough council approved a price hike for residential parking stickers, known as vignettes, that allow citizens to park in restricted zones.

Rates will be based on engine size, will double for households with multiple cars

Larry Karass said even those with residential stickers like his struggle to find parking in his southeastern NDG neighbourhood and he questions the plan to raise residential parking rates. (Valeria Cori-Manocchio/CBC)

Montrealers living in the city's largest borough are in for a surprise the next time they renew their residential parking permit. 

Prices are going up — way up for those who own a vehicle with a powerful engine.

In a five-to-one vote Monday, the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough council approved a price hike for residential parking stickers, known as vignettes, that allow citizens to park in restricted zones. The new fees are based on vehicle type.

For at least a decade, residents have paid $60 a year for their sticker. The new price system starts at $75 for vehicles with an engine equal to or less than 1.6 litres, such as an Escort or Civic.

The price then goes up to $90 for mid-size engines up to 2.2 litres in size and those with anything greater than a 2.3 litres will pay $120. The price doubles for additional vehicles and is significantly reduced for hybrid or electric vehicles.

This rate hike doesn't sit well with residents like Larry Karass who struggles daily to find a residential spot for his Subaru Outback — a station wagon with a 2.5-litre engine.

Karass and his family don't have a driveway, so they rely on curbside parking in one of the borough's busiest neighbourhoods and now they'll be paying $120 a year to park.

Living just north of the Vendôme Metro station, he is competing for parking spots against more than just public transportation users — there are several medical facilities, a tennis club, shops and offices in an area that is already densely packed with residences.

Residents want more parking enforcement

While residents are circling their neighbourhood in search of a free spot, they often see non-residents illegally parked without consequence, James Luck pointed out.

Luck lives near Karass and both NDGers would like to see stricter enforcement before permit prices go up.

"I think that we need to have better enforcement of the residential parking permit areas first of all so that residents are able to find parking," Karass said.

Côte-Des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-De-Grâce residents will be paying more for stickers that allow them to leave their vehicles in special zones. (Kristy Snell/CBC)

The permit system makes sense, he said, as residents get specific parking zones and the annual fee covers operation costs. But Karass questions the environmental motivations behind offering electric cars a $50 rate.

While he supports the much larger incentives to buy an electric vehicle offered by the provincial and federal governments, Karass said "it doesn't make sense to provide an electric vehicle owner with a discount when we're all competing for the same spots here."

Neighbour Jo-Anne Wemmers said the new rates target city-dwellers who do not pay for private parking.

"Someone with a gas guzzler but private parking would not be motivated to change because of this legislation," she said.

Encouraging drivers to be eco-friendly

The borough wants to encourage people to dive more eco-friendly vehicles, according Sue Montgomery, the borough's mayor. She said the new rates are similar to those charged by the Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie borough.

That east-end borough has had same system in place for about five years.

After a decade of paying $60, it was time for rates to go up as costs rise, she said, noting the new measure is also aimed at encouraging households to rely on one rather than two cars.

"People are putting their private property on public property and I think there should be a cost associated with that," Montgomery said.

This new price plan is still cheap, she said, and she wants the borough to index the rates every year. 

Administration is 'green shaming,' says opposition

Though there are varying rates, most car owners will be paying $90 to $120, said Coun. Lionel Perez. 

Coun. Lionel Perez, leader of Montreal's official opposition. (CBC)

The opposition councillor voted against the measure, saying it just doesn't make sense for the borough to increase the burden on taxpayers.

"I think that  this is just another tax increase by the Projet Montréal administration and they are trying to use the environment as a green-washing pretext," he said.

Saying evidence that such initiatives help the environment is lacking, he thinks the borough should consider offering free parking for electrical vehicles instead of a discount.

"I think that this is just part of their anti-car ideology," he said, bringing up Outremont's recent decision to make all parking residential.

That borough is also changing its parking permit rates to be based on engine size.

"What they really want to do is some green shaming of car owners."

With files from Valeria Cori-Manocchio

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