All along Main Street on Wednesday, would-be parkers grasped small change and gazed in confusion at Whitehorse’s new, reconfigured parking meters.
“It’s all different now,” said one baffled minivan driver.
Meter rates have doubled, and the city’s 577 parking meters have all been refit to meet the increased volume of coinage.
First off, they take nothing less than quarters.
“If you put in a nickle or a dime, they’ll just go right on through and won’t register any time,” said John Taylor, city bylaw services manager.
“You’ve just made a donation to the City of Whitehorse,” he said.
A quarter used to buy half an hour, but now it only buys 15 minutes — a loonie will get you an hour.
Or, just take the bus, which is only $2.50 — it doesn’t need to be parked, says the city.
“With the rising cost of fuel, the bus could be a much more attractive option these days,” said Mayor Bev Buckway.
“It’s a tough one in Whitehorse, people are reluctant to use the bus for a number of reasons and it is a hard sell, but it definitely was time to get meter rates up there and do the increase that comes along every once in a while,” said Buckway.
The installation of new meters has cost the city $146,632. But at an estimated annual revenue of $125,000, the new meters should be paid off by late 2009, says the city’s introductory administrative report.
Plans were once considered for the installation of an electronic pay station — but was rejected due to carrying an estimated cost of a quarter million dollars.
Until October 14th, when the new fees are scheduled to come into force, the downtown parking community will remain in a state of nonpaying anarchy.
Nobody will be checking the meters, but it doesn’t mean you can spend a luxurious six hours with your sedan angle-parked in front of Coast Mountain Sports. Parking attendants will still be chalking tires to make sure nobody overstays their one-hour welcome.
“We’re not being totally nasty about it, but we want people to keep moving around so they don’t start plugging up the downtown core,” said Taylor.