News / Edmonton

Edmonton coin-operated parking meters set to become a thing of the past

The city’s parking meters could become museum pieces by this time next year, as city councillors have given a green-light on plans to replace the coin-operated meters with electronic ones.

At the city’s executive committee, councillors approved plans to replace all of the city’s more than 3,000 parking meters with pay-by-plate technology similar to what the city has been piloting over the last year.

Gord Cebryk, the branch manager of transportation operations, said changing the technology is about having the city catch up.

“Ten years ago, you had a flip phone and now you have an iPhone. It’s technology and it’s more convenient,” he said.

The city estimates installing the new system will cost approximately $12 million upfront, but through cost savings and increased revenues, they anticipate an additional $7 million a year to offset that.

The machines are currently on a select number of downtown streets as part of a technology exchange with the City of Calgary.

The city plans to put a tender soon for the total replacements and because Calgary is a potential bidder, their machines may need to be temporarily removed to make the bidding process fair.

Cebryk said they would like to avoid doing that if possible, because people really like the new system.

“Our goal is to try and make sure that whatever we do is best for the consumer, because the consumers have tried this process and they like it,” he said.

Mayor Don Iveson believes it’s past time the city retire existing parking meters. He said one of the benefits of the new system is going to be the ability to charge different rates based on demand.

“We can change the price at different times of day much more easily with this kind of system,” he said.

Iveson added that will bring in more dollars for the city, but that’s not actually the main goal.

“Setting the right prices is not just about revenue, it’s about turnover, which is good for downtown,” he said.

While the city is behind a lot of others on parking technology, there might end up being an upside to waiting.

“Other cities are way out ahead of us on this one, but sometimes it pays to wait a generation and let everybody work out all the kinks," said the mayor.

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