News / Calgary

ParkPlus system lost its selling point? Calgary councillors are concerned

Calgary Parking Authority talks budget at city hall

The City of Calgary has been trying to sell Parkplus, but it's not working.

File Photo / For Metro

The City of Calgary has been trying to sell Parkplus, but it's not working.

Calgary's ParkPlus system may have lost its selling point, and members of council are questioning why the city's continuing to pursue entrepreneurial endeavours in licensing the product.

On Tuesday, as the Calgary Parking Authority answered budgetary questions, councillors raised concerns over the ParkPlus product's viability as the city's tech is being undercut by competitors. The authority was asking for $2 million to invest in the ParkPlus product.

Although the homegrown system was once popular in Calgary, and began licensing in Edmonton as well, it's not able to compete.

"We absolutely believe we're competitive with them at the best of times," said CPA board chair Fred Clemens.

"We will continue to find a return to the corporation with this product the best we can until we decide we have to pull the plug because we're not making money."

What used to be the only company doing the automated parking tech with a made-in-Calgary product, is now in a pack of other groups offering a similar system.

Coun. Joe Magliocca wondered if they should be selling the product to other municipalities at all.

"Every time we come here, it's viable, it's viable," he said. "There's got to come a time to pack it in, we're just throwing money."

Coun. Ward Sutherland echoed concerns asking if other companies were losing money when they were making better offers and winning bids against the parking authority.

"In terms of the product itself, and the technology, where do you see it three years from now in terms of the viability?" he asked.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said it's long been a discussion for the city to create subsidiaries (the decision was not to) to market products, and Calgary needs to check if they're actually set up to do so.

Clemens said every year they get a list of all of the bids done, what was won and lost and they analyze what they've won and lost.

"We don't want to be selling the product at a loss," Clemens said. "Our competitors are not all bidding and losing money, some of them ... are offering less of a system than we are."

Shelley Trigg, Acting General Manager said there's a new app launching in early December with more features making it more marketable.

Coun. Jeff Davison said it would be useful to see how much the CPA is spending on the new app and any program upgrades.

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