Info-Parking helps Montreal drivers through winter

Originally posted on OpenFile Montreal on January 5, 2012

http://www.openfile.ca/montreal/montreal/text/info-parking-helps-montreal-drivers-through-winter

Info-Parking helps Montreal drivers through winter

As a self-described former parking ticket magnet, Lisa-Marie Williams was fed up with paying penalties for parking in front of her house in LaSalle. Despite a $100/year parking permit, the 25-year-old Concordia masters student says she’d get tagged for parking when there was planned snow or leaf removal, even if it never happened.

A little-known info-parking system set up in 2002 has helped Williams turn the chaos of winter parking into a breeze. A phone number at the bottom of every parking sign in Verdun and LaSalle allows citizens in the borough to find out if the parking restrictions posted are actually in effect.

Look familiar? According to the Weather Network January is Montreal's snowiest month with an average of 52 cm. Something motorists love to hear. Photo: nathanmac87 via Flickr (http://opnfil.es/AyQLET)

Look familiar? According to the Weather Network January is Montreal’s snowiest month with an average of 52 cm. Something motorists love to hear. Photo: nathanmac87 via Flickr (http://opnfil.es/AyQLET)

Montreal is notorious for being a parking nightmare, partly due to its narrow streets. This is especially evident in the old sectors of Verdun and LaSalle where the roads were not built for accommodating cars, trucks and buses, especially in the winter. “When the streets were built in the beginning of the 1900s there were no cars,” said Francine Morin, spokeswoman for the borough of Verdun. “Even when cars became widely available it wasn’t every family that owned one. In Montreal’s old neighborhoods it’s hard because some families can have two or three vehicles.”

Parking is controlled by borough councils, not the central city. So far only two boroughs have bought into the info-parking idea, despite the positive feedback. “As far as the citizens are concerned we’ve heard only positive things about the program,” said Morin.

“A telephone message will run for 24 hours and every day we update it,” explains Morin. “If the city is removing snow or leaves from your street and are falling behind schedule we will say that despite posted [no] parking signs, you are allowed to park.”

Williams is an avid user of info-parking. She says that it saved her a lot of time trying to find a space and saved her wallet more grief. “I used it two to three times a week because anytime they put the orange snow removal signs up I would call. If no plow is planning to come when you called the number they would let you know – it also helps with your sanity when you don’t have to look for hours for a free spot.”

Now with snow blanketing the streets of Montreal, Williams is hoping that info-parking will come through for her again. “I haven’t gotten a ticket yet, but winter is just starting,” she said, “I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”

According to the SPVM’s figures, in 2010 Montreal police officers handed out 169,283 parking tickets and parking agents gave out 1 072 411. It’s part of an upward trend seen since 2007 in which police officers have consistently handed out more tickets for parking infractions. Williams’ take is that parking in Montreal can be, “like playing roulette to see if you’re going to get a ticket.”

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