EDMONTON – The City of Edmonton is moving forward with doing away with its coin-operated parking meters, which have been in place since the mid-1990s.
The city’s Executive Committee voted unanimously Wednesday, to move forward with a $12 million project that would see the 3,300 coin-operated parking meters that line Edmonton streets replaced with 400 pay-by-plate meters.
“We’re basically moving forward. It would be like 10 years ago, you had a flip phone and now you have an iPhone. So, it’s technology, it’s more convenience for the citizens and it provides a better level of service,” said Gord Cebryk, branch manager of Transportation Operations with the City of Edmonton.
The step forward comes after city staff recommended moving forward with the project late last month.
WATCH: City staff recommend replacing coin-operated parking meters
“It’s not only a good idea, it’s woefully overdue,” said Jim Taylor, executive director of the Downtown Business Association. “When you look at the major cities in western Canada – you compare Edmonton to Calgary and Vancouver, for instance – Calgary and Vancouver are light years ahead of us in parking technology.”
Earlier this week, city staff recommended moving forward with a $12 million project that would see the 3,300 coin-operated parking meters that line Edmonton streets replaced with 400 pay-by-plate meters.
The new system still allows people to pay with coins, but it also accepts credit cards, along with payments by cell phone. Users are also notified via their cell phone before their meter runs out.
“The parking industry is always looking to improving its technology. Pay-by-plate is relatively new,” explained Bohdan Maslo, acting director of parking management with the City of Edmonton’s Transportation Department. “It’s all automated and really it does provide the true conveniences.”
The city has been piloting the new Epark technology for the past year. Maslo says the pay-by-plate approached received an 80 per cent approval rating in customer surveys.
“They like this new technology; they like the conveniences of paying by coin, credit card or by account.”
The technology has already been in use in Calgary for about one year. Vancouver has taken a similar pay-by-phone approach to parking for years. Taylor says if the new technology is approved, Edmonton will be taking “a giant step forward.”
“It couldn’t be a better time with downtown unfolding the way it is with all of the new construction,” he said. “I think people will mostly appreciate that they don’t have to think about running back and finding a ticket on their car.”
Cebryk says it will take four years to pay back the $12 million cost to install the new meters.
“Once the equipment is paid off and the loan is paid off, then we move forward and that goes as another revenue source which can offset tax levy.”
The project still needs to be approved by city council. If approved, Cebryk believes the meters will start being installed in early 2015.
With files from Eric Szeto, Global News.
*Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Friday, June 27, 2014. It was updated at 6:03 p.m. MT Wednesday, July 2, 2014 to include the Executive Committee’s approval.