By next year, residents in Regina could have the choice of using a phone to pay for parking instead of feeding a meter.
A city report headed to Thursday's meeting of the community and protective services committee calls for upgrades to the city's parking infrastructure.
It recommends councillors approve spending $50,000 on a consultant to design payment options for on-street parking. It also asks them to consider adding funding for a pay-by-phone system into the 2019 budget.
"The goal of parking services, to be clear, is to provide the safe and efficient flow of traffic and that essentially means we want to curb illegal parking," said Faisal Kalim, manager of parking services.
"So if people can pay for parking with their phone, if it's more convenient, they have another payment option, then the amount of illegal parking will go down and subsequently the amount of tickets will go down, which is a good thing."
Residents or city could cover transaction fees
The report points to a 2014 parking study that called for various initiatives, including upgrading technology for parking downtown.
"Currently the vast majority of the paid parking infrastructure in the city only have a coin payment option. These meters are reliable and cost effective; however, they do not provide the modern parking experience that customers have come to expect in comparison with other west Canadian municipalities such as Saskatoon and Calgary," it reads.
It outlines how staff researched a pay-by-phone parking system, where people could pay through a smartphone at any spot downtown instead of plugging a meter. The report says parking enforcement officers would then use a handheld device to check if payments were received.
Residents could pay for app sooner
According to the report, operating such a system would cost around $100,000 per year in transaction fees, which could be passed on to customers if councillors so decide.
If customers pay the fees, the city could procure a pay-by-phone system sooner than the 2019 budget process. However, Kalim says staff isn't recommending the option since it would require bylaw changes.
Area councillor Andrew Steven is open to the city of residents paying.
"I'm not opposed to it. I think this is going to be the discussion on Thursday, people are asking for it, in fact some of the conversations I've had suggest that people are willing to pay a little bit more if it means that added convenience."
Stevens is pleased such improvements to parking are being considered, saying they are much-needed and long overdue.
He said a pay-by-phone system would hopefully reduce the complaints he hears about parking in the area.
"You're never going to get rid of these complaints entirely, but for those people who just needed, you know, a couple more minutes instead of running half way across town to plug the meter this will make things a bit easier."
Kalim said the two-hour limit for parking would still apply even if a pay-by-phone system was implemented.
Parking staff also want to hire a consultant to draw up plans for other on-street parking payment options, which could include the installation of new pay stations.
Kalim explained there is a need for such improvements even with an app-based system because not everyone has smartphones and some that do wouldn't want to burn data to pay by phone.
Current credit card meters 'underutilized'
In terms of , the report says they are located along 11th Avenue.
The report says the city's existing meters where people can pay by credit card, which were installed along 11th Avenue in 2015, tare "underutilized."
It says they are placed in an isolated spot where it could be difficult to find parking.
Staff say these meters have reached the end of their life cycle and need to be replaced, but doing so would be costly, so the city plans to use them as coin-operated.