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St. John’s loses $1.3M annually from busted parking meters

A broken parking meter in St. John’s in March 2017.
A broken parking meter in St. John’s in March 2017. - The Telegram

Vandals made off with $12,000 in coins in 2016 and 2017

Ongoing vandalism of parking meters cost the City of St. John’s more than $1.3 million in 2017.

Just over $1 million of that figure is lost revenue, with $270,000 needed to pay for the replacement of the broken meters.

A report from city staff presented to council shows that about 300 parking meters were vandalized last year. With the city estimating $10 in revenue per day from each parking meter, the city was losing about $3,000 per day in revenue due to parking meter vandalism.

The report estimates the vandals made off with about $12,000 in coins from the busted meters over the last two years.

After spending $627,729 to replace parking meters across the city in 2014, the city may have to do it all over again just four years later.

The meters are being discontinued by the manufacturer and will entail replacing parking meters across the city. The report estimates the total replacement could cost another $403,330.

A new plan for sourcing and installing the new meters will be needed “in the very near term,” according to the report.

One solution proposed in the report would see the elimination of coins as a way to pay for parking at meters. The report proposes the use of credit cards, paying via phone or parking cards as new ways to pay for parking in the city.

That would eliminate vandalism, according to the report.

As it stands, the report says 72 per cent of parking is paid for with coins, so it would take some adjusting for the public to get used to paying for parking in new ways. The report recommends reviewing the coinless system after a year of its implementation.

Should council accept the recommendations, the plan is to test the cashless system before bringing it in across the city. There is no timeline on when that project will start.

Residential permits could double

The report also recommends that the city almost double the cost of residential parking permits in the city.

Currently, a residential parking permit costs $15 per year. The city takes in about $54,000 a year from 3,600 such permits.

However, the city is losing about $46,000 for the administration of the parking permits program. The report recommends upping that price to $27.50 annually to make up the lost revenue.

Sidewalk dining possible

The report also lays out ways for restaurants to use on-street parking in front of their storefronts for sidewalk dining options. In other cities, businesses can lease the parking spots and put on-street dining areas out front during summer months. The report recommends the city explore that option and determine how best to implement such a program in the city.

Churchill Square changes

The report also recommends making all parking at Churchill Square metered, and also increasing the hourly rate from 25 cents to 75 cents. The report says the city needs to consult with businesses in the area before making any changes.

The report will be discussed at Wednesday’s committee of the whole meeting at St. John’s City Hall.

david.maher@thetelegram.com

Twitter: DavidMaherNL

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