Evidently, if a recent article in a local newspaper is accurate, Montreal is in a war (a losing one this far) with cars. Our mayor has shown scorn for car owners by severely reducing the number of parking spots in the downtown core. Her major reworking of central artery Ste. Catherine Street will see wider sidewalks, less room for vehicles and hundreds of fewer parking spots.
In tourism bumf, Montreal is often referred to as the Paris of North America. The language is clearly not the same as the rest of the continent, even if you can always get by with English. But geographically we are, obviously, closer to other Canadian and American cities than we are to Paris or Berlin. Or Oslo.
In the Norwegian capital, the city administration is aiming at making the downtown core car-free. Yes indeed, they want to have no vehicles at all. Lots of bikes and public transit. In the early stages of this project, there was a large backlash from car owners. (In Norway car ownership is about 30%.) They felt like second-class citizens, not wanted in their own city. So the city said, okay we won’t ban cars, but we will ban parking.
In Montreal, countless businesses, many long-established, have gone broke due to asinine long-term street closures that choke off incoming clients and force them to go to malls with ample free parking.
When it comes to automobiles Montreal is more Fresno than Oslo.
In Fresno and most American cities, the car is king (the national average for car ownership is two cars per person!). I’m not suggesting that’s a good thing, but merely emphasizing that Montrealers’ attachment to cars is more along the lines of American cities than, say Oslo. I believe our dear mayor is going to kill a once vibrant downtown area by making it nigh on impossible to get there and stay there.