By Kuhl, Nick on May 4, 2018.
For The Herald
Downtown Lethbridge has begun installing a new system for parking that is more accessible and efficient than the aging single-space parking meters currently occupying the city’s downtown.
The $2-million project that began four years ago had a lot of public engagement to determine the pay-by-plate-recognition machines would be the best solution for the City of Lethbridge.
Val Fellger, parking co-ordinator for the City, said accessibility to the machines was a big concern for the public prompting them to increase the number of parking kiosks throughout the downtown core.
“We are looking at installing 170 kiosks downtown; you are going to see two or three of them at the angle parking blocks and one or two on the parallel parking blocks,” said Fellger.
With accessibility being a top priority, the machines are functional for everyone with large screens and buttons, set at a reasonable height. Old parking meters will remain in front of the accessibility stalls for convenience.
The new machines make it more convenient to pay allowing people to pay with coin, credit card or with their smart phone using the Cale Access Way To Park app. Inputting your licence plate number to secure your payment will go along with how the parking enforcement team checks the streets.
“We are moving to the licence plate recognition system, so there is going to be a vehicle with cameras mounted on it which will be reading licence plate numbers and will be indicating to the drivers by an alarm if a vehicle has not paid,” said Fellger. “It is going to be a more efficient system for them as well as less confrontational on the street.”
The new kiosks are following the City’s pattern of going green by adding solar panels to the roof to triple charge the batteries, compared to the old parking meters that have four double-A batteries that need replacing.
The downtown will be divided into zones, displayed by signs which will allow people to park up to two, three and 10 hours. The signs have been put up but Fellger said the zones will not be in effect until the system is fully operational.
“The day that we are going to go live, what our intention is is to put a hood or a bag over the meters that say ‘please use the machine,'” Fellger said. “Once those are on that will be the day that you start using the machines and obeying the signs.”
The last week of May is the projected start-up date for the new parking system, allowing time for people to locate and learn about the machines. Until the system is fully operational, residents are asked to continue using the parking meters.
Demonstration models have been set up at the downtown Business Revitalization Zone office as well as city hall for people who want to learn more about the new system.
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