Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix: Why Montreal is telling fans to leave their cars at home

Grand Prix weekend is nearly here — and that means tens of thousands of spectators are expected to descend upon Montreal.

The Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix, which is a three-day affair, is the largest sporting event in the country.

“It’s a big weekend,” city spokesperson Philippe Sabourin told reporters Tuesday.

“On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we’re expecting merely 100,000 people per day are going to the event.”

Montreal is gearing up for the annual race and officials are strongly urging fans to leave their cars at home. There will be no parking spots available for the thousands of spectators at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

“Forget about it,” Sabourin said, adding there will be “no way” for ticket holders to park on either Île Notre-Dame or neighbouring Île Sainte-Hélène.

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Festivities are set to take place on Crescent Street in downtown Montreal for Grand Prix weekend.

Tim Sargeant/Global News

Cabs are an option, he added, but the best way to the Grand Prix is by public transit, biking or walking, as traffic will be heavy on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge.

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“The best piece of advice is coming from the city is to take public transit, plan your moves and enjoy the festivities during the weekend,” Sabourin said.

There will be extra police officers to help direct traffic. The Société de transport de Montréal (STM), the city’s public transit authority, will also have more more buses and Metros up for grabs.

“The service will be increased according to the needs,” STM spokesperson Isabelle Tremblay said.

Montreal’s downtown core will also be busy this weekend, with a festival for all ages planned for Crescent Street. The celebrations kick off Thursday morning.

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Glenn Castanheira, executive director of Montréal Centre-Ville, said the Grand Prix is a big benefit to downtown restauranteurs and businesses.

“The buzz is fantastic,” he said in an interview with Global News Morning.

But anyone who is trying to find accommodations last minute might have a hard time, according to Castanheira. Most hotels are already booked for the entire weekend.

“If you’re looking for a hotel his weekend in downtown Montreal, good luck,” Castanheira said.

After missing two years due to COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021, the Canadian Grand Prix is returning to Montreal for a third straight year in 2024. The circuit is under contract with Formula One until 2031.

In 2023, the Grand Prix saw a record 345,000 spectators. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey, NHL stars Mitch Marner and Carey Price, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell all made the trip to the circuit last year.

with files from Global’s Tim Sargeant and The Canadian Press

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