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Downtown parking meters facing extinction

City moves ahead with pay-by-plate plan; meters could be gone by next summer
Greater Sudbury is introducing pay-by-plate technology, which will allow users to buy time at downtown parking spots using their smartphone. (File)

Greater Sudbury is introducing pay-by-plate technology, which will allow users to buy time at downtown parking spots using their computer, smart phone or nearby machines that will be erected in different areas of the downtown.

The plan is to bring in pay-by-plate as a second option this year, along with the meters. In addition to convenience for shoppers, the technology will also allow the city to better enforce the two-hour limit on downtown spaces. That's a big concern of businesses in the area who say people occupying the spaces all day makes it harder for customers to get close access to their businesses.

With pay-by-plate, a user can only purchase up to two hours and will have to move after that, or be ticketed. Within the two-hour limit, however, users can add time using their phone, and not have to race back to their car to put more coins in the meter.

“Downtown business owners have expressed concerns regarding the practice of patrons feeding the meters and staying in excess of the two-hour parking maximum, particularly along Cedar, Larch, Durham and Lisgar streets,” a report on the plan said.

“As there is no requirement for enforcement officer on foot to check each meter, pay-by-plate systems can achieve higher compliance rates with less enforcement personnel. The current meters only accept coin and in an increasingly electronic age, this method of payment is diminishing rapidly.” 

With the proposed Place des Arts and the Elgin Greenway taking out a combined 150 spaces, and the art gallery/library convention centre taking even more, maximizing the use of remaining spaces is even more important, the report said.

“Downtown business owners support this viewpoint and routinely express concern with the upcoming losses of parking lot space and the scarcity of available on-street parking for their customers.” the report said. 

Pay-by-plate technology will be introduced this year, and the plan is to remove the actual meters beginning next summer.


*An earlier version of this story may have given the impression residents will need to have a smart phone to be able to park downtown. Fixed machines will be installed throughout downtown, meaning pay-by-plate would provide a user with the ability to pay by coin, credit card or online using a smart phone.


Darren MacDonald

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