Patients and visitors heading to Peace Arch Hospital would be wise to check what coins are in their pockets if they plan to park at a roadside meter.
City of White Rock officials confirmed Tuesday the machines are among others across the country that do not work with the new loonies and toonies that were rolled out by the Royal Canadian Mint last month.
And unlike the solar-powered meters along Marine Drive, which are in the process of reprogramming that is expected to be complete this month, the 90 or so machines located along streets including Finlay, Russell and North Bluff present more of a puzzle.
“Those are apparently more challenging,” said city manager Dan Bottrill. “They’re still trying to figure out what they can do… how we’re going to deal with those meters.”
Bottrill said the city has fielded the odd complaint about the issue. Meters supplier POM (Park-o-Meter) has committed to coming up with options by the end of next week.
The new $1 and $2 coins went into circulation April 10. According to information released by the Royal Canadian Mint, the currency are made of “multi-ply plated steel technology”, have advanced security features and are more cost-effective to produce.
The change is saving Ottawa a projected $16 million a year but expected to cost the vending industry $40 million to recalibrate.
“Obviously, there was a lot of people that got caught with having these coins enter the market without having the chance to be prepared,” Bottrill said. “You would think our Canadian Mint would work with vendors like this before they released the coins.”
Parking meters are not the only equipment needing to be retooled. TransLink’s ticket vending machines also couldn’t read the new coins. The problem has been fixed at all Canada Line stations; upgrades of older machines on the Expo/Millenium Line are being done in phases over the next several weeks.
In Surrey, about a third of the city’s 49 parking pay stations have been retrofitted, and the balance are scheduled for next week, said Jaime Boan, manager of transportation, estimating Surrey’s cost at about $4,500.
Bottrill did not have a cost estimate on addressing White Rock’s meters, as the solution for the older machines has yet to be identified. Once that is found, he expects the fix will proceed quite quickly.
Until then, city staff are exploring what, if any, steps should be taken to advise citizens of the problem, including whether decals should be added to the roadside meters warning customers the coins will not work.
The heads-up will be too late for at least one hospital visitor. In a letter to Peace Arch News, Langley resident Brian Ulle, noting he spent $7 for four hours’ parking, describes losing “another buck” to the meters as “a slap in the face.”