Parking permits: a case of premature elation

By Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban
March 14, 2007

Côte St. Luc council is expected to vote next month to lower the city’s monthly overnight parking fee to $20 from $35, and to $10 for residents of Tommy Douglas, Abraham de Sola and David Lewis in the North of Hampstead area.

Council passed a notice of motion to change the law, and the matter will be debated at the April 16 council meeting.

The plan calls for the $20 a month fee to apply to those who have permits for more than one three-month block of time, and $25 a month for those who just buy one three-month block. Those who paid the $35 starting Jan. 1 would be reimbursed the difference. Residents of North of Hampstead would pay $10 a month in any case.

But the lack of a vote at Monday night’s meeting disappointed resident Steve Matlin, who an hour earlier in the meeting had praised council for reconsidering its position.

“Was the resolution passed?” Matlin asked. “Is the cost of parking going to be reduced, or isn’t it? This wasn’t very clear to me.”

Housefather explained that according to the law, before a bylaw is amended, a notice of motion is passed at one meeting and is then debated and possibly passed at the next public meeting.

Overnight parking is generally prohibited in Côte St. Luc, but exceptions are made for residents who can prove they have no space in their driveways, garage or apartment building to park. Before the municipal mergers, the monthly fee was $50, but during the mergers, the fee decreased to $10, causing the number of permits to rise to 280 from 30.

The North of Hampstead area is being given special consideration because driveways are steeper than normally allowed in Côte St. Luc. Homes were built in the area when it was part of Montreal.

A quick survey of councillors by The Suburban after the meeting indicated the changes will pass in April. But councillor Glenn Nashen, who strongly supported the hike to $35, because of the sharp rise in permits when the fee was at $10 per month, said he wanted to “set the record straight” on the issue.

“At the beginning of this year, 96 permits were issued for long-term overnight parking, and that includes approximate 20 in [North of Hampstead].” he said. “None of us will argue there was a particular problem with those streets. What this tells me is either there was a decrease from 280 permits issued to approximately 80, or an increase from pre-merger from 50 to about 80. Everyone can draw their own conclusions what that means, but I think that…”

Housefather stopped Nashen at this point, saying the councillor was out of order because only a notice of motion had passed, and a debate would take place in April.

Approached after the meeting, Nashen declined to say whether he would dissent at the next meeting, but said he would save his comments for later.

“I am very sensitive to those residents who have great difficulties in making ends meet and would like to do whatever is feasible to ease their burden,” he said. “At the same time, we must respect those residents who have said they do not want any parking in front of their own homes.”