Put away the plastic: no credit card parking metres for Vernon

Theresa Bru trials one of the new parking metres.

VERNON - You won’t be able to use a credit card at downtown parking metres, but it turns out few people wanted to anyways.

During a three month trial in which two types of credit card capable metres were tested, only 1.68 per cent of transactions were paid for with plastic. The new metres carry a capital cost of $67,780 plus an additional $25,000 in annual operating costs for the city, and until parking fees are increased, administration advised against buying them.

Council voted to forego the transition to new metres, something that made great economic sense to one councillor who was against them from the beginning.

“I think when we have parking rates as low as ours, I just don’t think it makes sense economically,” coun. Brian Quiring said.

It was a reverse experience for Coun. Mary Jo O’Keefe who has supported them all along. While she agreed the investment cost is significant, she lamented the loss of technology. Not only would the new metres provide drivers with a more modern form of payment, it also would have allowed the city to track what areas people parked in the most.

“We were going to be able to track usage and we were going to be able to develop policy based on fact,” O’Keefe said.

She reminded staff that the city’s goal has been to identify what areas are most used for parking and which are least used, and to then implement higher parking and lower parking rates respectively to push drivers off main corridors and onto less used side streets.

“How would we ever determine what is high usage and where we’re trying to move people off of?” O’Keefe said.

Clint Kanester, manager of bylaw compliance, said they’d have to track usage the old fashioned way: through surveys.

“There’s lots of handicaps, there’s lots of fallout from surveys,” O’Keefe said. “(It) would have been nice to have some hard data.”

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.

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