The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

From Pete Goldin over at Parking World

Is surface parking a blight on the land?

On March 11 and April 12, I posted blogs outlining the controversial parking tax in Montreal. It seems the city is funding public transit literally at the expense of Montreal's downtown parking industry. But that's not the whole story.

A secondary and less publicized purpose of the tax is to discourage surface parking. The tax on indoor parking is significantly less than outdoor parking in part because the city wants to encourage lot owners to build on outdoor parking lots, to promote development and minimize the number of empty lots across the downtown community, says Alan Desousa, Vice Chair of the Executive Committee for Ville de Montreal.

"We want to see more building, more development, in the downtown core, and clearly the best opportunities are empty outdoor parking lots that we think could be put to better use through building," Desousa notes.

He also points out that the city will not lose parking spaces, because the parking could be located in the basements of these buildings.

Aside from the public transit issue, it seems that Montreal has taken this tax as an opportunity to squeeze owners of surface parking lots and force them to do something else with the land – because surface parking is not attractive and does not fit in with Montreal's aesthetic vision of the future.

Desousa doesn't see it quite that way. His arguments actually make sense from a certain urban planning perspective.

"We hope to encourage the owners of lots to build on them and not to have a series of empty lots across the downtown community," he continues. "It will add value to the owners, the business community and the city. So there is an incentive to develop, and incentive for whoever owns property to add value not only for themselves but for the city as well, in terms of future tax revenue."

OK, I will admit that surface parking may not be the best way to beautify a city, but if Montreal really wants all that asphalt out of view, shouldn't they establish government incentives for car park owners to re-engineer their properties – not just cite the long-term economic incentives? All I am saying is that the city could have taken a positive approach instead of trying to tax surface lots out of existence.

John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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