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Demand-based parking: pilot project slated for downtown first

Demand-based parking: pilot project slated for downtown first

Snowdon District Councillor Marvin Rotrand’s motion to introduce a system of demand-based pricing for parking was unanimously adopted by city council on March 19.

The next step is a pilot project to be carried out by Stationnement Montreal, the city’s parking authority, which will report back to council in September. Implementing variable rates in CDN-NDG
and elsewhere in Montreal could help the city to better manage traffic and reduce congestion.

“The system I ultimately hope to see will be modeled on the one used in San Francisco. There will be much better information available to drivers via their smartphones and on electronic signage about available parking, and rates will be adjusted up or down in accordance with demand, thus promoting better rotation at peak periods and attracting business during times of reduced demand,” said Rotrand.

In an interview with the paper on March 27, Rotrand added that “this is probably far more important for the downtown core and its periphery and the pilot project will probably be there. But yes, I can see this as appropriate for Côte-des-Neiges Rd.”

Other borough councillors, like NDG councillor Peter McQueen, are on board with the idea. “Yes, we support the idea of demand-based parking in high demand areas, like downtown, and potentially the highest demand areas in CDN-NDG, like Côte-des-Neiges Rd. from QueenMary to Côte-Sainte-Catherine Rd. and Monkland from Girouard to Wilson. However, implementing such a system is not simple, so of course we would want Stationnement Montreal to implement it on a large scale downtown to get the bugs out before we applied it on a smaller scale here,” said McQueen to the paper.

The City of Montreal wants to update its public parking policy in the short to medium term. The flat per-hour rate is seen as the “old model.” Right now, you pay $3 an hour to park downtown, or $1, $1.50 or $2 an hour depending on which of the four zones you’re parking in.

21st-century technology is opening up new possibilities, according to Rotrand. Montreal was not the first city to offer the possibility of paying parking from a distance using a smartphone application. Other cities in Canada have started offering lower parking rates during weekends, and Ottawa is moving towards a demand-based parking system.

San Francisco has pioneered demand-based rates on 8000 of its 27,000 parking meters via the SFPark group ( Prices vary based on how many spots are taken and how many parking spots are still unoccupied.

The system has an impact by allowing a better rotation of vehicles in high-demand areas.” It attracts more users where fewer people park, where prices are lower.

In San Francisco, rates can change in real time, but they can also be adjusted depending on the time of day to free up some parking space or to attract more users.

Other American cities have adopted this system. Traffic can also be better managed - with information and fees available on a smartphone, drivers can avoid driving around looking for a vacant spot or low-cost parking.

At first glance, one can see how Rotrand’s initiative could help save gas, time and money, while having a positive impact on the environment.

Marie Cicchini |
Photo : Marie Cicchini

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