Amid ongoing debate over the place of the automobile in urban centres, the City of Montreal has announced its is following through on a plan to boost fines for parking and traffic violations.
Mayor Valérie Plante‘s administration, which has been praised and criticized for policies to limit cars, says fines for parking in a disability zone will double to $300, while tickets for double parking and blocking traffic will increase by $20 to $60.
The fine for a basic parking violation will be $62 with fees, compared to $30 in Toronto, $68 in Calgary and $100 in Vancouver, according to figures supplied by the City of Montreal.
The increases are expected to be approved at April’s city council meeting.
In a statement, the city said the measure will improve traffic flow and make the roads safer by removing obstructions to visibility.
“We want to send a clear message that these behaviours are detrimental to fluidity, in addition to having significant collective impacts, and that they must be eliminated,” said Eric Alan Caldwell, the councillor responsible for transport.
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Plante’s administration announced earlier this year it expects to collect roughly $12 million more in revenues from fines this year despite ending a widely hated ticket quota system for police officers.
The city’s statement says the parking ticket increase is the first since 2009 and brings fines in line with those doled out by other major North American cities.
But the leader of the opposition sees it differently, saying it amounts to a “disguised tax” and an example of the administration’s anti-car agenda.
Lionel Perez said Plante campaigned on a promise to represent all Montrealers but has since shown her true colours.
“What we see here is a concerted effort through different public policy decisions that are clearly demonstrating their tendency to be anti-car,” he said in a phone interview Friday.
Montreal, long recognized as one of North America’s most cyclist-friendly cities, is no stranger to heated debates over the place of the automobile on its streets.
Plante’s administration angered some drivers last month when it revealed details of a pilot project to ban through traffic from the city’s scenic Mount Royal park.
More than 27,000 people signed a petition against the measure, which was prompted by the death of an 18-year-old cylist last fall.
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This week, the city also approved a contract to turn part of a street into the city’s first “veloroute,” meaning bicycles will be able to ride down the centre of the street and have priority over cars.
The administration, Perez said, is also mulling widening sidewalks and fully eliminating parking along Sainte-Catherine Street in the next few years, leading to what he calls “potentially disastrous” consequences for merchants.
Perez says he’s in favour of encouraging walking and cycling but believes the city is making decisions without taking time to understand the impact they could have on citizens.
“Everybody is for increased public transit, everyone is for increased active transit,” he said.
“It’s a question of how you make those decisions, the evolution, the timing, and what the alternatives are.”