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Tolls coming (back) to Montreal

Yes, finally! Something faintly resembling a political decision has been made by Montreal's City Hall, and inter-municipal discussions about setting-up toll booths should be had with Laval and the South Shore in the Fall. Why am I happy? Primarily because over 1 million cars drive into the city every day, when last I checked, and that's just insane.

Insane how? Insane in that the population of Greater Montreal itself is only around 3 million, meaning that one car is driven into the city for every three people who actually live in the area. Insane because it is a ridiculous waste of physical energy and one's time to drive through traffic for two hours to get here. Insane because it is expensive and backwards to build a city around a model in which the automobile is seemly assumed to be the dominant life form, with poor communities and neighbourhoods taking the brunt of social hardship involved in constructing, expanding, and maintaining an automobile-commuter-centered infrastructure. Want to kill a community, intentionally or unintentionally? Simply run a highway through it, thus physically splitting the neighbourhood in half and reducing the amount of time residents spend in contact with each other, while making it easier for government officials (*cough* police) to enter as they please and the increased noise and pollution either encourages or forces those who can to move away.

How much revenue would come directly into municipal coffers by polling cars one-dollar a day? $365-million; enough to make Metro services essentially free for the quarter-million people who currently use it (STM budget, pg 27)-- or pay to drastically expand the network. The major trouble: the Provincial government, which is officially opposed to allowing toll booths to be set up on bridges that have been built using money from provincial coffers, and which might conceivably apply pressure to shut-down any plan which either encourages the financial independence of ornery municipalities such as Montreal, or undercuts to projects of massive Ministries such as Transports Quebec.

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