City aims for credit card option for downtown Regina parking in 2018

City of Regina collecting on $7 million in unpaid parking fines

Downtown Regina is still filled with coin-operated parking meters, but the city says that may change in 2018.

Justin Reves posted a video to Facebook on Sept. 21 calling for the city to implement parking systems that accept credit cards more widely downtown. He was inspired to take to social media after he struggled to come up with change to plug a meter downtown and was ticketed because he was eight minutes late returning to his car.  

"We're still asking an increasingly cashless society that we need to have change in order to park downtown," said Reves.

Faisal Kalim, Regina's manager of parking services, said the city is working on putting in place the building blocks to implement a credit card-capable parking system.

Kalim said the city is interested in implementing pay-by-app options, as replacing the entire Regina meter system with those that can accept credit cards would cost over a million dollars.

The cost for the infrastructure for the pay-by-app option would be minimal because it would only require stickers on the city's current parking meters or signage to provide instructions for how to use the app if a person doesn't have change to fill the meter, he said.

Any other costs associated with a pay-by-app option — like convenience fees charged by the app company — would be "very manageable," Kalim said.

"I would like to see sometime in the new year we can go through a procurement process and have something in place for 2018."

There are currently some credit card-capable parking meters on 11th Avenue and Broad Street in Regina.

Kalim said the city invested to upgrade parking enforcement's handheld devices to connect with a cellular network in July.

He said that's an important step toward the credit card-capable parking infrastructure he hopes to see downtown in the new year, as it would allow parking enforcement officers to go online to see who has paid for parking if a pay-by-app option is implemented.

Saskatoon parking

Reves noted that many other major cities in Canada have already taken the leap to credit card-capable parking systems, including Saskatoon.

Saskatoon's FlexParking program rolled out in early 2015. According to a representative from the city, the revenue trend for the program is positive and expected to increase.

"The FlexParking system has resulted in greater compliance with the parking bylaw and ensures more turnover in parking, which ensures more business downtown and in the Broadway, Riversdale and Sutherland business districts," wrote Andrew Hildebrandt, director of community standards with the City of Saskatoon, in an email.

Hildebrandt added that parking ticket revenue is down since more people are complying with the parking bylaw, but the city is seeing more revenue from FlexParking because it makes it easier for people to pay for parking.

Saskatoon also utilizes the WayToPark app, which allows drivers to pay for parking from their smartphone.

Kalim expects the same thing to happen in Regina if credit card-capable parking systems are put in place.

"If ticket revenue goes down because more people are parking legally, that's a good thing for the city," said Kalim.

Reves sees that merit in credit card-capable parking programs. In his Facebook post, he said he would gladly pay to fill parking meters downtown, but he doesn't carry much change around anymore.

He said fewer people would find themselves ticketed downtown if they could pay by credit card.

"I believe it would serve the businesses of our downtown a lot better. And I think we all want to have a thriving downtown," said Reves.