By Villeneuve, Melissa on August 30, 2017.
Lethbridge residents will have to fish for meter change to park downtown for a few more months.
The rollout of the Downtown Parking Meter Replacement Project, originally planned for this fall, will be delayed until next spring.
Lethbridge City Council was provided an update on the project at Monday’s meeting.
The estimated $2-million project was approved in September 2016. It involves replacing the city’s existing downtown meters with 170 pay-by-plate multi-space machines (MSMs) with licence plate recognition enforcement.
Another 60 single-space smart meters will be installed at accessible parking spaces and in four isolated locations with foot patrol enforcement.
Val Fellger, the City’s parking co-ordinator, said the procurement process took longer than anticipated this year. The City has chosen a vendor but the kiosks won’t be available until the end of October.
“When we started putting through the timelines for installation, doing some testing and turn on, it would be pushing it probably close to the beginning of December,” said Fellger.
The City wanted to avoid a winter launch to protect the best interests of the citizens and local businesses, so they decided to hold off until spring.
“That was about the businesses in the downtown and their Christmas season but as well, during our public engagement sessions, we said we wouldn’t do a winter turn on so that the people if it’s their first time using these type of machines… so they weren’t learning out in the cold.”
City staff met with stakeholders on Tuesday to review the new timelines. They’ve been working closely with the Downtown Business Revitalization Zone, the Heart of Our City Committee, the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Lethbridge.
Some preparation work will go ahead this fall, mostly concrete work in about 40 locations.
“I’ve met with (the contractor) today and hopefully they’ll be starting that mid to late September so they can all be in place over the fall so we’re ready to roll out in spring when it’s good weather,” said Fellger.
They are also trying to secure a demo machine to use over the winter months to educate residents on how the system will operate. The demo machine could be located at city hall or moved to different locations in the downtown.
The new system will bring the city up to date with modern parking technologies and is intended to establish consistent parking controls throughout the downtown.
With the new system, customers would walk to the MSM, punch in their licence plate number and choose a payment method. They would not need to return to their vehicle to display the receipt. Customers could also move around within a particular zone.
The existing meters will remain in place until the new system is up and running.
“Then we’ll start removing them block by block,” said Fellger.
The existing bicycle rings, installed on some parking meters, will stay. In fact, the City has been installing more of them over the past few weeks, said Fellger.
“Because we do know that bicycle parking is an important part of coming to the downtown.”
Parking ambassadors will also be out in full force next spring to help residents navigate the new parking technology.
Council reported earlier that parking rates would not increase. However, paid parking will be expanded into the current free-timed zoned areas, which are located mostly between 5 and 6 Avenue South.
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