A “perfect storm” has resulted in over 100 parking meters in downtown Red Deer being out of service for the past month or longer.
Fred Dieno, parking co-ordinator for the City of Red Deer, said Friday that a shortage of replacement batteries, as well as a failed hand-held computer at the same time resulted in about 120 meters being out of service.
“We do have a problem with meters right now.”
Dieno said he did not know what the loss in revenue would be to the city but that there had not been a noticeable dip in parking revenues. The city has about 1,200 parking meters in the downtown.
“We got hit with a perfect storm. Our meter technician’s hand-held computer crashed at the same time as we were trying to get batteries, and we just got both those items in.”
After a cold snap in November, a number of batteries failed in parking meters. New batteries were then used up, and it took longer than usual for an order to arrive. And when the hand-held computer also failed, spare meters could not be installed because they couldn’t be set up correctly.
The batteries, which are not special, still need to be prepared by the supplier, in shrink tubing for example, so they will fit into the parking meters. The batteries normally have a life of about three years, Dieno said.
Non-working meters will either be blank, flash “NSNP” for “no service no parking” or BTY for “battery”. The ones that are not working are spread throughout the downtown.
New batteries and a new hand-held computer have just arrived, Dieno said. “They are being replaced today as we speak.”
Enforcement officers are well aware of the problem and they won’t write a ticket if it’s on a meter that isn’t working, Dieno said.
Some people have complained they couldn’t pay their parking and if they did receive a ticket, the city will cancel it, he said.
A technician will be working this weekend and hopes most of the meters that have been reported as not working will be up and running by next week, Dieno said.
The meters are computers and worth about $1,000 each with the protective housing to prevent anyone from opening them.
Stolen meters have been recovered sometimes several months later. In most cases they can be used again, he said.
“These housings are something else,” Dieno said.