But what is the best criterion?
The Plateau district of Montreal is incredibly dense, with over 11,000 people per square kilometre. The buildings, with their exterior stairs, are almost 100 percent efficient. But street parking is in short supply, and permits are required.
To help fight carbon emissions, the new Mayor of the borough, Luc Rabouin, wants to raise the parking permit price for cars with bigger engines. He tells the CBC: "The ecological transition is a priority. The residents of the Plateau want us to act now, while there is still time."It's an interesting idea that is already being done in another Montreal district. In Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, a car with a 1.6 litre engine pays C$75, 2.2 litres pay C$90, and anything over 2.3 litres pays C$120. That seems low to me, but then I had a Subaru Outback with a four-banger that came in at 2.5; you could fit two of them in the 5.7 litres of a Ram 1500.
Of course, there is opposition that says "I think that this is just part of their anti-car ideology" or another tax. But the director of the environmental council likes the idea:
"[Montreal mayor Valérie Plante] and her team committed to very ambitious targets, with a 55 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050. If they want to get there, they have no choice but to attack parking."
I learned about this via Angie Schmitt's tweet, which, like the CBC headline, is not exactly accurate; they are using engine size, because it's hard even to define an SUV anymore, given that most are actually crossovers on regular car chassis. I wonder if engine size is the best criterion. There is not a lot of parking in the Plateau, and I suspect size is a bigger issue.
I think that weight is a better standard, since fuel consumption really is a function of it, and heavier cars are also bigger. Look at this list of vehicles that are over 6,000 pounds, used as a guide for calling it a work vehicle and getting a tax deduction; there are a lot of SUVs and pickups on it. They are BIG.
I have long said that the governments should Make SUVs and light trucks as safe as cars or get them off the road, and that there should be a special licence class for them since they are so much deadlier than cars. But they also take up so much space. On my own street, there are three big pickups that take up way more space than the cars did. This is, perhaps, a better way to determine how much they pay for parking.
Whether it is taking up space, killing pedestrians, or emitting greenhouse gases and particulate matter, these big vehicles are a disaster. Tax the crap out of them, and charge parking by the square foot that they occupy.