Drivers will see more two-hour free parking in downtown Nanaimo for at least a year.
The City of Nanaimo will be removing all 130 parking meters in the downtown core following a vandalism spree over the last three-to-four months. The meters will be removed either this week or next week.
Dave LaBerge, manager of community safety for the city, said vandals have taken off the tops of approximately 86 parking meters on various streets, including Dunsmuir, Wallace, Chapel and Albert.
LaBerge thinks that the vandals use a screwdriver to pry apart the two parts of the parking meter. City staff later find the broken dome tops or pieces of glass from the meters inside bushes, dumpsters or weeds.
“They’re not trying to get money,” LaBerge said.
‘The money is in the bottom of the meter.”
According to LaBerge, replacing a single meter can cost $700 and $1,000, and it’s also difficult to find parts for the aging units. It would also be challenging to monitor all of the streets 24 hours a day, LaBerge said.
The city had also planned to replace the meters with multi-space kiosks.
“The ones we have in the city are really old,” LaBerge said.
He said with the vandalism, the city was noticing diminishing returns and it came to a point where it made more sense to take out the meters and put in temporary two-hour parking.
“We want to make sure there is a turnover for the businesses,” LaBerge said.
The new kiosks will not be part of the city’s 2019 budget but there will be a study done in the new year to see where they can go. LeBerge said the project should be included in the 2020 budget.