Being a coin-operated parking meter in Salmon Arm is not easy these days.
While vandalism appears to be alive and well, the meters are being beaten into submission as funds bleed out of the city’s replacement budget.
Maurice Roy, the city’s manager of permits and licensing, says about 100 meters have been smashed since mid or late August.
Although the illegal quest for coin is not lucrative for the thieves, it is expensive for the city.
At a cost of a little over $300 to replace the housing for each one, that’s about $30,000 in three months.
“The internal mechanisms are an additional $250 each but most of them have been salvaged,” adds Roy.
A quick sampling of the Internet shows Salmon Arm is not alone.
In Vancouver, police estimated a 10 per increase in damaged meters over the past year. In Kelowna, about $50,000 in damage was tallied halfway through 2019.
Similar stories of damage were reported in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Whitehorse, Yukon and, south of the border, in St. Petersburg, Florida and Birmingham, Alabama.
The City of Salmon Arm has been exploring replacement options for meters, but those are not cheap.
During last month’s budget deliberations, staff told council they don’t have a price on the new ‘smart’ parking meter technology for the downtown, but it will be in the $200,000 range.
Last year the city’s parking commission recommended that $100,000 be included in the 2019 budget for meters to be installed in the spring of 2020, but 2019 was a tight budget year so that didn’t happen.
In last month’s budget deliberations, council added $25,000 in the 2020 budget to the reserve fund for meters, making a total of $35,000.