The cost of a parking ticket in Saskatoon could soon be going up, but business groups say more payment options are needed before hiking penalties.
City council’s executive committee will decide Monday whether to raise the early payment rate to $20 from $10 because of a significant jump in tickets doled out to drivers at expired meters during the last year.
The idea was part of last year’s civic service review, but council was caught up in the furor over charging at meters on Sundays and didn’t debate the idea.
Drivers are choosing to suck up the ticket rather than plug the meters, city administration maintains, citing evidence of declining meter revenue and a spike in the number of tickets, which have jumped more than 20 per cent.
“The cost to park at a meter for an entire day … would be $18, whereas the penalty to park at an unpaid meter for the entire day would be as low as $10, if paid within 14 days, and providing that a subsequent ticket isn’t issued,” a city report says.
At $10, Saskatoon has the lowest early payment rate among western Canadian cities for those dinged with an expired meter ticket.
In Regina, a ticket is $45 with a $10 early payment, a ticket is $65 in Calgary and $55 if paid within 14 days, in Victoria a ticket is $40 or $20 if paid early and it is $70 in Winnipeg or $35 if paid within two weeks.
The ticket jumps to $50 in Saskatoon if it isn’t paid within two weeks, which the administrations says “is appropriate.”
Increasing the discounted ticket to $20 “would provide a deterrent, while still providing an incentive to pay the penalty early,” a report to the executive committee says.
The Riversdale Business Improvement District (BID) board passed a motion recently asking for more payment options upfront before increasing tickets.
Council scuttled a $1-million plan last week to reinstate city cards and pay-by-phone options while replacing all the individual parking meters. City administration is rewriting a request for proposals that could see a new parking system in place by the end of the year.
Right now, paying by coin is the only option for most people, said Randy Pshebylo, executive director of the Riversdale BID.
“(The board) wants to see more options available for compliance before penalties are raised or adjusted,” Pshebylo said.
“People need to be able to pay by debit card, credit card, pay by phone, not just coins. We believe that people generally want to comply and will pay given the option to pay.”
There would likely be fewer tickets issued if the penalty is increased and more revenue from parking meters with “no net budget impact,” the report says. A 1999 report found the city would gain roughly $100,000 for every dollar the early payment option was raised.
The minimum fee was raised to $10 from $6 in 2007.
Mayor Don Atchison said parking fines, meter rates, taxi and transit fares need to be reviewed in tandem.
Atchison said he’s in favour of differential parking meter rates in different areas of the city, not just $2 per hour at all city meters, a system that is employed in Edmonton and Calgary.
“We keep on dissecting things in too small of an area and we need to look at the bigger picture,” Atchison said.