Vernon city council has approved a $225,000 plan to repair and upgrade parking meters after more than 350 of the meters were damaged by vandals or thieves.
Damage to city parking meters has been a recurring issue this year.
A city staff report, presented to council this week, said there were incidents where staff made repairs during the day only to have the meters damaged again overnight.
Those trying to break into the parking meters weren’t deterred when the city tried to secure the meters by bolting down the dome caps on top.
Once the bolts were put in, the perpetrators were “smashing off the entire top of the meter,” the city’s manager of protective services said in a report to city council.
The city’s mayor called the widespread damage “really disappointing.”
“It is just normal citizens who are paying for all of this and that’s really dissatisfying,” said Mayor Victor Cumming.
“It’s a very expensive fix.”
The $225,000 approved by city council will used to fix the broken meters and upgrade all 950 of the city’s parking meters to a higher strength metal casing, which is expected to make them harder to tamper with.
“Our sister cities here in Penticton and Kelowna have gone to this more robust meter and they’ve had much less vandalism,” said Cumming.
The money to repair and upgrade the meters will come from a reserve fund, so they will not directly impact tax rates. However, Cumming said the expenditure means there is less money available for other projects.
“The money doesn’t come from the sky, it comes from individual taxpayers so some things will not get done,” Cumming said.
Six arrests have been made in connection with the damaged meters, according to the city.
Cumming said it’s highly unlikely any money stolen from the meters came close to the amount the city is having to pay to fix them.
The city had expected to make more than $950,000 in revenue from parking meters this year.
However, meters being offline because of vandalism and the temporary suspension of parking meter enforcement during the COVID-19 pandemic will likely means the city makes considerably less off the meters this year.