HALIFAX - Halifax has opted to hold off on a parking pilot project around the Commons in favour of a more far-reaching study that could see a new, meter-less parking system for downtown.
HRM city staff are looking into a new parking system that could eliminate the need for parking meters.
Jane Fraser, director of the city‚Äôs planning and infrastructure, told regional council‚Äôs Committee of the Whole Wednesday she wants to conduct a holistic review of the city‚Äôs parking strategy, which was introduced initially in 2008.
‚ÄúIt really is a bit of a disappointment,‚ÄĚ said Jane Fraser, about calling off the Commons pilot project. ‚ÄúBut I think at the end we‚Äôre going to end up with a better product.‚ÄĚ
Fraser revealed the change in direction during the budget presentation for the city‚Äôs Planning and Infrastructure department.
She said one part of the new review would involve looking into introducing pay-by-plate parking, a system that allows drivers to buy parking time by inputting their licence plate number in a street-side kiosk.
Parking attendants then use handheld devices to determine which cars have and have not paid and issue tickets accordingly.
Fraser said it would even be possible to develop an app that would allow drivers to use their cell phones to top up their parking time, doing away with the need to run out to add a coin to the meter.
Other benefits of the system include lower set-up costs and maintenance, less environmental waste, increased parking capacity and more revenue for the city.
‚ÄúWhen you make a parking meter you have to size it to the largest vehicle,‚ÄĚ said Fraser. ‚ÄúBut when you have technology what you can do is have two smaller.‚ÄĚ
According to Fraser, pay-by-plate technology stands to increase parking capacity between 10 and 14 per cent.
‚ÄúGetting this done and getting that cutting edge technology in place will yield a whole bunch of benefit for everybody,‚ÄĚ said Coun. Waye Mason.
He dismissed concerns the increase in on-street parking would cause a shift to car culture.
Mason estimated there are more than 500 parking meters downtown, which generate between $2.5 and $3.5 million per year.
Besides investigating the feasibility of pay-by-plate parking, the review will examine parking governance and whether the municipality should own and operate parking garages, as well as parking capacity and location.
Fraser said she intends to present a roadmap for moving forward to the city‚Äôs transportation committee in the spring.