© File photo
Snowdrifts almost reach the height of parking meters in downtown Charlottetown.
Parking meters in Charlottetown have been suffering through the winter but city staff have been keeping up by switching good for the bad.
“In the course of December, between some rain, freezing rain and even our own snow-blowing operations, we did have some issues with moisture getting in to the coin slot of the electronic meters, creating some ice internally that was causing them to malfunction,” said Paul Johnston, manager of public works for Charlottetown.
Vehicles parked at iced-up meters were not ticketed, said Johnston. On the other hand, he said it’s up to the public to attempt to use the meters and not consider the winter weather some sort of parking free-for-all.
“If they did show up with a failure on the display, then the commissionaires that were doing enforcement would know that they weren’t working properly and through internal communications, the commissionaires were aware of certain areas were there was issues with parking meters,” said Johnston.
There are 800 metered parking spaces in Charlottetown. As of the latest report from last week, some 180 had been switched out with another 90 on the schedule, so more than one-quarter of all meters had ice problems.
“From the maintenance side of things we were taking the meters off and drying them out,” said Johnston. “We had some surplus stock, so that we were able to take one off that was not working and put on a good one, dry out the one that was having problems and put it on the next one down the block and take that one off, a domino effect.”
Johnston says meter malfunctions were much fewer last week.
“Whether today’s rain will cause us some more problems, we will have to wait and see,” he said.
Meters affected by ice might not take a coin if another one is frozen in place blocking the mechanism, or the meter might take a coin but not show any increase in time.
If a person using a metered parking space tries to use a meter and it doesn’t work, then gets a ticket, there is a process of review, said Johnston.
“It is only a portion of our (meter) inventory (that does not work because of ice) and we have an idea of where they are so it doesn’t mean there is a free-for-all on the city streets, that you don’t have to pay any meter,” said Johnston.