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Pilot project will see sensors monitor parking spot use downtown

Devices monitor when vehicles park and when they leave, letting bylaw enforcement know if they've stayed too long

As city officials eye downtown street parking improvements, an upcoming pilot project will see sensors installed in the asphalt to monitor parking spot use and let bylaw enforcement know when vehicles have outstayed their welcome.

The project involves nearly 200 parking spaces along Wyndham Street (north of St. George’s Square), Quebec Street (Wyndham to Norfolk Street), Cork Street (Wyndham to Norfolk) and Macdonell Street (Wilson Street to Wyndham).

“We knew we wanted to have a better understanding of turnover (in those areas),” said Jamie Zettle, the city’s parking program manager. “One of the things the city wants to support is the turnover of downtown parking stalls so that more people can come and shop, and dine.”

The installation of sensors is set to begin Monday and run through Wednesday, followed by Monday to Wednesday the following week. Efforts are expected to begin at 5:30 a.m. each day and take about 20 minutes per sensor, with spaces re-opened as installation is completed.

“All four (sections of on-street parking) will not be offline at the same time,” Zettle said, explaining they’ll be done in phases. First up will be Macdonell, then Quebec during the first two days, with one day for each side of Cork and Wyndham streets.

Sensors record when a vehicle arrives in a parking spot and when it leaves, helping to paint a picture of their use as part of an update to the Downtown Parking Master Plan next year.

They also send notice to bylaw enforcement officers when the two-hour on-street parking limit has been reached.

“The software understands the parking restrictions on the street,” Zettle said. “I think (the bylaw department is) open to seeing how effective this tool is in helping them enforce the parking stalls downtown.”

The pilot project is expected to run through to July, after which an update will be presented to council. At that time, the use of sensors could be extended.