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As tourists flock to Quebec City, calls grow for a crackdown on buses

A Quebec City councillor is calling for a crackdown on tourist buses — buses, he says, that are all too often left idling while passengers visit sites or eat in restaurants.

30,000 tourist buses visit Old Quebec every year

Coun. Jean Rousseau says it's time to address the problem of buses carting in thousands of tourists daily and then idling as those tourists explore the city.

A Quebec City councillor is calling for a crackdown on tourist buses — buses, he says, that are all too often left idling while passengers visit sites or eat in restaurants.

"This is totally unacceptable because the city has its own regulations that prohibit the running of a vehicle when it is not in use," said Coun. Jean Rousseau.

Quebec City is experiencing another record year in terms of tourism, with tour group operators driving that increase. As a result, tourist buses are multiplying in Old Quebec.

There are an estimated 30,000 tourist buses unloading passengers in the historic centre of the city every year. That's a substantial increase from the 5,000 annual average two decades ago.

Quebec City has banned tour bus parking within the walls of Old Quebec. Some hotels have docking areas, but the duration of the parking is limited to 10 minutes for passengers to board and disembark.

Thousands of tour buses flood Quebec City every year and one city councillor wants to see stricter regulations and enforcement. (Radio-Canada)

Rousseau says it's time for the city to re-frame its regulations surrounding tour buses and take a hard look at how the city enforces those regulations.

Quebec City resident Michel Masse, president of the Old Quebec citizens' committee, said it is not about banning buses. Residents welcome tourists, but it's important to find a balance between residential life and tourism, he said.

This discussion comes as Paris aims to ban tourist buses completely from its city centre, encouraging tourists to instead walk, cycle or rely on public transportation.

However, the executive director of the Quebec City Hotel Association, Marjolaine de Sa, does not believe that the comparison between the two capitals holds up. 

Quebec City's tourists tend to be seniors and walking the steep and narrow sidewalks of Old Quebec can be difficult, she said.

"If we do not have the buses, the number of tourists will go down," she said.

"Unfortunately, we do not have easy public transportation services for people who do not know the routes. We are not Paris."

With files from Radio-Canada

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