Topless parking meters don’t provide free parking in downtown Kelowna - InfoNews

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Topless parking meters don’t provide free parking in downtown Kelowna

Even though one of these parking meters is topless, people are expected to pay to park at both of them.
July 03, 2019 - 2:06 PM

KELOWNA - About 80 parking metres had their tops smashed off in downtown Kelowna over the Canada Day long weekend.

Since it will take a few more days to get them all repaired, motorists may think they don’t have to pay to park where a damaged metre resides.

Not so, said parking services manager Dave Duncan.

“We don’t consider it to be free parking,” Duncan told today, July 3. “We do have pay by phone options.”

The City can’t even allow people to park for free at out of service meters because, if they did, people would deliberately sabotage them, he said. In this case, however, the entire tops of some meters are missing.

Since February someone has figured out how to smash or knock the tops off the meters, Duncan said. He estimates about 1,000 have been damaged over that time, some more than once.

Often the object of the damage is to get coins out of the meters but the coin boxes are in the lower part of the meter head in a separate box.

About 80 meters were made topless over the Canada Day long weekend in downtown Kelowna.
About 80 meters were made topless over the Canada Day long weekend in downtown Kelowna.

Cash didn’t seem to be the target in this latest rash of attacks.

“Over the long weekend, it looks like someone was having fun going along with a hammer, or something, smashing them,” Duncan said.

The City is in the process of phasing out coin-operated meters in favour of pay stations so people can use credit cards or a phone app rather than just cash.

Until that happens, the damaged meters are being repaired. Since so many have been decommissioned already, there are a lot of spare parts. Still, Duncan estimates the amount of staff time replacing them, along with some parts, is worth about $50,000.

He just received a shipment of heavier casings today in the hopes that they are less susceptible to damage.

The new pay stations have not been attacked. They also have alarms, either audible ones that sound off or they send silent notifications to staff.

He’s asking anyone who witnessed the vandalism or has videos of them to contact the RCMP. He knows of two people who have been arrested and charged so far.

There are about 600 coin-operated parking meters that are still to be phased out over the next two years. Most will be replaced with pay stations but Duncan noted in some cities where there has been a lot of vandalism, parking in some blocks can only be paid for by phone.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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