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Parkside Centre parking problems driving some members away

Scores of members of the downtown facility for seniors have stopped visiting because of difficult experiences with parking device  

The pay-for-parking machine in one downtown Sudbury location is not working as well as it should according to dozens of visitors to the Parkside Centre on Brady Street, next to the YMCA Centre for Life building on Durham Street.

The issue seemed to have come to a head this past week when several visitors were unable to use the machine and they found parking tickets on their windshields.

John Richer, the manager at the non-profit adult centre, said the underground parking area is popular, but he is told by many clients that the machines often break down.

The parking machine is located outside near the front door of the centre. 

"I think they're causing a lot of the problems for people,” Richer told “They're not difficult to use if you've used them several times, but you know people who come here sporadically have problems using them. The machines break down frequently." 

Although no one could say for certain, some suspect that cold weather affects the machines.

Another issue he said is that when several people arrive at the Parkside Centre at the same time, a lineup is created. Frustrations arise especially when people have to stand in the cold. 

The machine requires users to enter their licence plate number, to choose the length of time for their stay, to choose a method of payment (coins/debit/credit card) or to enter a discount code. 

The City of Greater Sudbury website provides a detailed page on how residents should use the machine. 

The city also encourages vehicle owners to sign up with the HotSpot app, which allows users to pay through their smartphone.

Parkside volunteer Lynne Globensky said the lineups happen when one or two people have difficulty using the machine and then others arrive and have to stand behind them waiting their turn.

"This nonsense meter that we have downstairs, half the time doesn't work," said Globensky. “A lot of the seniors are standing in the cold and freezing. pushing these buttons and then our lineup gets started. And it's just very, very frustrating. Like I said, half the time, it doesn't work. Sometimes, It won't accept coins or it won't accept cards. It depends on the day.” 

She said many members have said they think twice about visiting the centre because parking is so difficult.

Richer verified it. 

"What I can tell you is that we've done a survey of our membership about parking, and we asked them one question that said, you know, have you stopped coming to the Parkside because of those parking meters? And 15 per cent of our membership said that was the reason why they stopped coming," Richer said. 

"So traditionally our membership, you know pre-COVID was 1,000 people. So 150 of those people essentially have said we're not coming because of that reason. It's a pretty big number, right?"

Globensky, in the meantime, said the hope is that the city can do something to improve the situation. She said she has forwarded a petition to city hall asking that changes be made. She said the petition was delivered to the city just before Christmas and she was told the city would look into things and that it might need to be referred to city council.

Globensky admitted she didn't have any magic answer on how to solve the issue but said the machine itself is not helping. 

Richer remarked that before the city installed the parking machine, there was a booth with a parking attendant who would handle all the parking concerns. 

While was shooting photos of the parking machine at the Parkside Centre on Friday, one woman drove up and was paying for parking. She made three attempts of pushing the buttons before her payment was accepted. The woman said she did not mind paying for parking, but her preference would be to have the machine installed just inside the main doors. 

That way, she said, the parking machine would stay warm and it would be easier for anyone waiting in line to pay for their parking.

The municipality said it is aware of the issue and will continue to monitor for any challenges that might arise.

"The city is responsible for the administration and maintenance of all city-owned parking machines in lots and on-street. We have been working with the Parkside Centre in efforts to make parking available and accessible for all residents, and will continue to do so," said a statement from the City of Greater Sudbury communications office.

"As with all technology, there are issues with malfunction at times and these are addressed as quickly as possible through our parking department. We address them through signage, educating the public on the machine use and maintenance repairs if required. If issues are experienced with the machines, we ask residents to report to 311 so that they can be addressed quickly," the statement continued.

Len Gillis covers health care and mining for

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Len Gillis

About the Author: Len Gillis

Graduating from the Journalism program at Canadore College in the 1970s, Gillis has spent most of his career reporting on news events across Northern Ontario with several radio, television and newspaper companies. He also spent time as a hardrock miner.
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