EDMONTON — Parking in Edmonton is getting a much-needed update. The city officially launched its new EPark system Wednesday, which will replace all traditional parking meters in the city.
Sixteen new machines have been installed near City Hall, and by the end of the year, more than 400 of the new machines will be added on Whyte Avenue, in the Kingsway area, and throughout downtown.
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The machines will allow drivers more payment options for parking, including paying using a smart phone app.
“You can pay through other methods; with a credit card, you can pay online,” said transportation services manager Dorian Wandzura. “You can create an account for yourself or you can create an account for your family, for customers.
“That’s a kind of flexibility you don’t get with coin-operated meters.”
With the new system, users with an EPark account are only charged for the time they actually spend parked in a spot. The measure will prevent users from overpaying, but it also means drivers will no longer be able to take advantage of time left over on a meter.
Dashboard receipts are also eliminated with the EPark system: instead, drivers will enter their licence plate number into the system, and parking officers will use photo technology to check whether or not a parking spot has been paid for.
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The new meters will also allow the city to both increase and decrease parking rates, depending on location and demand.
“At peak times, much like market demand, rates might change upwards,” said Wandzura.
“However in low-use periods, there might be a discount pushing rates downwards, to encourage people to park and use the space available, so that variability gives you some market pricing to balance supply and demand.”
The city’s director of parking management said there are no plans for a rate increase in 2016.
The changeover means the city will also have to figure out what to do with the 3,300 parking meters that are being replaced, including the possibility of selling them to another municipality.
“The first coin-operated meter was installed in the City of Edmonton in 1948,” said Bohdan Maslo, Edmonton’s director of parking management. Maslo added, “This will be the end of the coin-operated meter.”