Vancouver city council has approved changes to its parking meter program that will make it pricier to park on the city's busiest streets.

The new parking program will hike meter rates by $1 per hour in areas where meters are occupied at least 85 per cent of the time.

In areas where meters are occupied less than 60 per cent of the time, the rate will be lowered by the same amount.

The city will collect data four times a year to determine the occupancy rates on different streets.

Currently, rates range from $1 per hour to $6 per hour for the city's roughly 10,000 parking meters. 

Under the new plan, parking meters will also be rounded up to the closest dollar. For example, a meter currently costing $1.50 per hour will soon rise to $2.

Aiming to increase turnover

Vancouver engineering manager Jerry Dobrovolny said the plan will free up on-street parking spaces by increasing turnover.

"We hope people park, run into a business for 15 minutes, and leave. If they're parking for a longer period of time, we'd prefer they use a parkade," he said.

The City of Vancouver currently generates $50 million in parking meter revenue and $20 million in ticket revenue every year.

Dobrovolny said he isn't sure whether the change will increase or decrease that income.

But in a report to council, city staff have already indicated that a rise is expected.

"Overall revenues are expected to increase," reads page six of the report. "An estimate will form part of the 2017 annual budget process."

The new rates will come into effect in 2017.

With files from Lien Yeung