The city has not attached a definite timeline to its parking meter upgrade project.
© Justin Crann
The city has been rolling out its new smartcard-enabled parking meters for the past several years, and the project remains ongoing. Pictured here, one of the retrofitted meters, with the smartcard slot running diagonally beside the coin deposit slot.
The project, which has been ongoing since 2007, is an endeavour by the city to go digital with all of its more than 1,100 parking meters and enable smart card payment.
"We're slowly changing over the parking meters," said Staci Dobrescu, public works supervisor for water and wastewater. "We have changed over half of the meters to smart card readable. Our goal is to have everything changed over, eventually."
More than half of the meters have been converted, she said, adding the city converts meters at a steady clip of about 40 to 50 per year.
But because the remaining meters are "very old," turn dial-styled devices, the processes used on the more modern meters cannot be used now.
This is especially a problem, Dobrescu noted, in the city's metered parking lots.
"The entire bodies need to be replaced. The pole will stay, but the bodies will change and the meters inside will be new," Dobrescu explained. "It's a pretty intense process. … When we do an area, we have to do the whole block."
The goal, she said, is to make the system easier for residents who need to use the meters — especially since there are devices that won't even accept loonies or toonies.
"Our end goal is to have all of the parking meters upgraded. The turn dial meters won't even take loonies and toonies, which makes it even more difficult because then the user has to carry a roll of quarters," Dobrescu said.
When the upgrades are in, both the city and those who use the meters will benefit, she added.
"A lot of people who park downtown are usually going shopping," Dobrescu said. "They may be in a store for 10 minutes, but they put $2 in to the meter. (With the smart card) they actually get their money back if their timeline is shorter."