Martin C. Barry
If one thing became clear during a public consultation held at Église Saint-Martin in Chomedey Oct. 24 on Laval’s parking policies, it’s that an overwhelming majority of people want the city to abandon its wintertime policy requiring car owners to park on alternate sides of streets to accommodate snow removal.
“It’s about time I think,” Chomedey city councillor Aglaia Revelakis said in an interview with the Laval News. “The residents in my district have come to me numerous times to complain about this issue.”
New parking rules coming
Under the city’s recent rules for winter season street parking, car owners have been required to abide by posted restrictions prohibiting parking from Oct. 30 to April 30. However, according to Revelakis, this year because of warmer than usual weather the city decided not to begin the winter season parking period until Nov. 1.
While the alternate-side parking regulations will be in effect this winter, a new system of parking rules is expected to come into effect next year, reflecting suggestions made by the residents during the consultations. In addition to the Oct. 24 consultation meeting, the city has also been holding consultations in other districts of Laval.
Facts on parking here
Some basic facts about cars and parking in Laval: In all, there are 250,000 cars in Laval. That number breaks down to 1.6 automobiles per household. Excluding private driveways, there are 520,000 parking spaces in Laval (42 per cent on the street, 58 per cent off-street. Three-quarters of the drivers in Laval have at least two parking spaces located on private property.
Following a plenary session, during which the nearly 80 residents at the meeting broke up into a half-dozen focus groups to discuss parking problems, an overwhelming majority agreed the city should abandon the wintertime alternate-side street parking system and find another way to carry out snow removal.
Alternate parking disliked
“Alternate parking has got to go – it should never have been there in the first place,” said longtime resident Nick Furfaro. “Second, is that the city should rethink its whole cycling situation. Because I think that too much importance has been given to having the cycling paths, in comparison with how many people actually use them.
“We’re not in Europe,” added Furfaro. “We’re in Quebec. We know exactly our situation in summer and winter. So should we have some cycling paths? Yes. But should we have them to the extent that we now have them and in the space that they occupy? I think the answer is no.”
Many parking complaints
In an interview with the Laval News, l’Abord-à-Plouffe city councillor Vasilios Karidogiannis conceded that, like Revelakis, he too has had to contend with grievances about parking. “Complaints in general about the parking,” he said.
“In the winter, it’s inevitable because of the snow and the parking situation gets tighter. It’s a combination of factors. Used to be that if it snowed on a weekend, the city wouldn’t be able to tackle it until the start of the week. But the rules have changed now. The employees for the city will be working all weekend so hopefully that will improve things.
Changing the culture
“It’s very hard to change the culture of people,” Karidogiannis added. “Thinking that they can dump their snow wherever they feel like. When you clear your driveway, that snow has to stay on your property. It doesn’t go out onto the street. That just augments the problem.
“There are all sorts of little things like this during the winter. But as we have learned during this consultation, there is an abundance of parking in Laval. We just need to find ways to maximize its potential. I think there are a lot of people who think that the space for two or three vehicles on the street in front of their home is their space, and if they can’t find parking in front of their home they get upset.
Garages not being used
“And a lot of people also don’t use their driveways for whatever reason or their garages,” said Karidogiannis. “A lot of them have been turned into storage spaces. Mind you, the size of cars has changed from what they were back in the day. In any case, there are a lot of adjustments to make in the thinking of people. We’re a growing city – especially Chomedey. It’s very dense, a lot more housing and a lot more cars. So parking a short distance from your house or around the corner or on another street is a reality we have to face and hopefully people start adjusting their attitude about it.”