Need a downtown parking spot? This app wants to help you and struggling businesses

Looking for a spot to park downtown? The City of Montreal is hoping a new app will help you out, while also bringing much needed relief to struggling businesses.

Santana Enrique's shop Sports Crescent has weathered several storms in recent years, including years of construction. But COVID-19 and a lack of parking spots is having him feeling the economic pain yet again.

“Already there is nobody,” he said. “Now, they are closing the restaurant and everything.”

One passerby told CTV News it took them 20 minutes to find a spot while trying to park on Wednesday.

An estimated 90 per cent of office workers have not yet returned to their downtown offices. Emile Roux of the Downtown Merchants Association said more needs to be done to make visiting the area easier.

“We know there are many thousands of parking spots available in the downtown area but today it remains complicated to find them,” he said.

The new app is aimed at solving that problem by allowing people to see spots opening up in real time, including in three downtown office garages which are priced the same as street parking.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante called the app a good way to support downtown businesses but Raffi Kotchounian of Cigares Vasco said it's not enough.

“It's going to be difficult to come back to what downtown used to be,” he said. “They killed downtown. All the stores that are closed already, even before COVID, now we are going to have more stores that are going to be closed.”

Enrique has one novel solution to help businesses.

“Leave the parking free for everybody and the economy is going to go up,” he said. “If it's going to continue like this, Montreal downtown is going to be a ghost town.” 

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