Sitting at picnic tables in the city of Dorval could soon come at a price.
Dorval city council tabled a draft bylaw that would charge park users to rent park structures, like tables and gazebos, on weekends.
The city says some of its popular parks were taken over last summer, as people flocked in large numbers to public green spaces to enjoy the outdoors.
“We have beautiful parks in Dorval and they were overwhelmed,” city spokesperson Sebastien Gauthier said.
“We received lots of complaints from residents who said they couldn’t enjoy the park and the picnic tables.”
Gauthier says by issuing this reservation fee it will allow people to use the space equally, prioritizing local Dorval residents.
Sitting down at a picnic table could cost residents $10 and non-residents $25 for a four-hour period.
The city’s gazebos would cost $88 for three hours and be available only to residents.
Reservations would be done online on the city’s website or by phone.
The city will be hiring a security guard and a monitor to enforce the rules. The money made from the rentals would go toward the hired staff’s salary, Gauthier said.
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“It bothers me. In certain sense, it should be free — that’s what parks are all about,” said Gary Kirchner, a Dorval resident. “It seems not right to charge people to come here.”
Kirchner and his wife regularly walk the Pine beach waterfront and say that after a nice weekend last summer, it was common to see garbage bins overflowing with trash.
“It seems reasonable, in a certain sense, because people camp out. We actually saw people with tents,” Kirchner said.
For other residents like John Singer, the implementation of a pricing plan for public property is unreasonable. He questions how far the city would go.
“It’s unfair. It’s a public space. We should be able to just come and enjoy the park,” Singer said. What’s going to happen if we go to another municipality. Are they going to charge us to walk on the path?”
The city reassures residents that tables will be free to use. If adopted, the rental fee would only apply on weekends and would not be mandatory.
“If you’re walking through the park and there’s a table available and you have a lunch or something, you can absolutely sit down and enjoy the view and use the table,” Gauthier said.
The bylaw is not set in stone and alterations are still possible.
The city says it will take note of the criticism and modify the bylaw if need be.
“The council is really open to listening to what people have to say,” Gauthier said.
The council is scheduled to pass the bylaw at the next council meeting on May 17.