November 18th, 2018

Parking kiosks up and running

By Kalinowski, Tim on May 29, 2018.

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald

The new parking kiosks are operational and accepting payment from those wishing to park in the downtown during business hours.

City officials held a launch ceremony of sorts in on the corner of 6 Street and 3 Avenue South Monday, with Mayor Chris Spearman rolling up in his Beemer to pay for parking at a kiosk nearby. The mayor tried to use his debit card to pay for the parking only to find out the kiosk did not accept it. He put some coins in to finish the transaction.

It is one of the things people parking downtown will have to get used to, Spearman remarked afterward to reporters. The machines will only accept credit cards or coins.

“That surprised me,” admitted Spearman. “I am not sure what the future of that is, but it would be great to take debit as well as credit cards. But if people don’t have a credit card, they probably have change … I think this (kiosk parking) is a step forward. We are keeping up with technology. We are trying to make sure people use the downtown appropriately where we encourage parking, but also encourage retail shopping.”

The City’s parking co-ordinator Val Fellger said the cost to get a Tap function put on the machines was prohibitive. The budget for the 170 kiosks the City bought and installed for just under $2 million is significant enough as is. But Fellger said the City has a work-around for those who do not have change or credit cards on them while parking downtown – a third-party app residents can download called “Way to Park,” where they can enter credit card and licence plate information and tap the app to park instead of plugging a kiosk machine.

“Because you are not putting in a pin code, there is no way for them to do a (debit) transaction,” said Fellger. “That’s why we went with the mobile app to try to provide another level of service for people. They are working on an e-service on that mobile app right now so people can use PayPal or some other form of payment function without a credit card.”

Fellger added the City would have “parking ambassadors” out on the street wearing bright yellow T-shirts for the next few weeks to help users adjust to the new parking system.

Dave Henley, the City’s senior Bylaw Enforcement officer, said there will be adjustments to the way parking is enforced downtown as well. The Commissionaires would be using an advanced mobile vehicle with high-tech licence plate recognition cameras working in conjunction with the parking kiosks to enforce parking time limits on users and ticket zoning violations. Under the new system Zone 2 (two-hour parking), Zone 3 (three-hour parking) and Zone 10 (10-hour parking) will have to stick to their own designated areas downtown. So if a user pays for 10-hour parking, said Henley, they must stick within that 10-hour zone area and cannot park in areas zoned for two or three-hour parking.

“When you move from Zone 2 to Zone 3, then you have to repay again,” he explained.

Despite the new technology aiding his Commissionaires, said Henley, tickets would still be made out by hand and placed on the violator’s windshield. He said those users who feel they were ticketed unfairly can make a parking appeal at city hall.

All users of the new parking kiosks must know and enter their proper licence plate numbers in the machines to avoid being ticketed unnecessarily even if they have paid for parking, he added.

Minimum parking costs at kiosks also means there is no more 10-cent parking for a few minutes anywhere in the downtown – about $2 is the least users can expect to pay whether parking downtown for five minutes or two hours.

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