By Adam Hooper
Ottawa will start replacing parking meters with solar-powered pay stations Wednesday pending a City council vote which is expected to increase parking revenues by $1.7 million.
The new stations will be provided by Precise ParkLink Inc. There will only be a few in operation over the winter as the company makes sure they can handle the cold weather. If all goes well, about 600 could be installed in the coming years.
Under the new system, which has already been put into place in Montreal, customers can go to a terminal, pay for parking in advance, and do not have to return to the car to place a ticket or marker. The location of the car and its “paid-until” status is memorized by the system.
The initial phase will see Ottawa’s few existing pay stations in the ByWard Market replaced with the new solar-powered devices. On Tuesday the new machines were already standing next to their soon-to-be-obsolete brethren, covered by thick bags pending final approval.
Aline Brunet, from St-Jérôme, Que., saw benefits to the new system, having used pay stations in Montreal. “Nobody has to go running after each meter to collect money, so it should be good,” she said, after deciphering the old English-only instructions on the old meters.
The pay machines will not let drivers use the minutes remaining after a car leaves its spot a, which is how the city will raise extra funds from the project. But letting people pay by credit card should make the system easier to use for drivers, who won’t worry about being caught without change.