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Potholes and Poutine

The Parking Paradigm – Part 1

February 28, 2014

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde: “To get one parking ticket may be regarded as a misfortune; to get two looks like carelessness” – unless that is you live in Montreal. In our first 8 months here we received over $800 in parking fines. Most people reading that probably have a sharp intake of breath, anyone from Montreal probably thinks “Is that all?” 

It would be fair to presume that we’re irresponsible, disorganized idiots who are a scourge on society because we park with reckless abandon – how difficult, you may be asking yourself can it be to park a car? Well check this out from a street in Montreal:

Riddle me this…
(photo courtesy of Dario Ayala/THE GAZETTE)

Montrealers will at least understand what most of it means even if they can’t interpret whether they can actually park there or not but when you first arrive you simply don’t have a clue. We have spent ten minutes walking up and down a street studying a myriad of contradictory signs and debating whether we can park or not. Our golden rule now is that if there is a yawning gap where you can easily park, right next to where you want to go you will DEFINITELY get a ticket. And those tickets do not come cheap. Starting at $52 for the mildest infraction (plus $2.50 for the pleasure of paying your ticket online and actually saving the City administration costs) they climb swiftly up. I actually have the Ville-Marie Website bookmarked and a line of $100 per month for fines in our family budget. Now that we’re a bit savvier this does give us an excuse to go out for lunch at the end of the month to spend the money we “saved” when we remain fine-free. Yesterday was a perfect example, however the irony wasn’t lost on us when my husband had to leg it from the restaurant (due to very slow service) to top up the meter (yes we have the parking app folks but unfortunately the server was down).

 Simply put you need a university degree equivalent to understand the parking rules. During the immigration process you receive extra points for certain qualifications and I think parking know-how should be included. What better way to prove you are an upstanding law-abiding citizen? Show people photographs then ask things along the lines of:

Would you park here on a Wednesday morning for 4 hours in April?

Answer: TRICK QUESTION! You can NEVER park here because there’s a fire hydrant just peaking out from that bush in someone’s overgrown front garden. Go to jail, directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect a Permanent Resident card.

In our first apartment we had plenty of on-street parking – except when we didn’t. Between 1 April to 1 December on one side of the street you could park there any time EXCEPT 7am to 9am on Tuesday and Thursday.  On the other side you couldn’t park  7am to 9am on a Monday and Wednesday.  Seriously our street was swept four times a week in four consecutive days. Yes there are a lot of leaves for a few weeks in September but for 8 months of the year the road was cleaner than our hallway.  “So what?” I hear you say, sounds simple enough: when you arrive home park accordingly for the next day. Except we don’t use our car every day.  In addition if we couldn’t find parking on our street we would have to park on a parallel street which had totally different times and days blocked out. More than once I woke up in the early hours panicked and shouting “What time is it? What day is it? Where’s the car, where’s the car?” much to my husband’s groggy annoyance. There was a palpable sense of relief in our house when the 1 December rolled around and the parking restrictions ended for a few months – then the snow came and a whole new, exhausting, even more expensive parking nightmare began………….

by Sarah. Find out more about Sarah here.