Starting next year, drivers in Thunder Bay will be able to use a debit or credit card instead of coins to pay for parking.

The city's parking authority will install new meters in larger parking lots.

Manager James Coady said the authority considered doing away with traditional parking meters entirely, but found the price tag too steep.

Coady said the city can afford to pay for enough of the multi-space parking meters to cover all of its areas, but didn't realize there was an $80,000 annual cost for the software to run the new meters.

toronto parking meter

Thunder Bay will soon see more parking meters that accept debit and credit cards for payment. The meters will look similar to this Toronto parking meter. (www.vosizneias.com)

That cost is prohibitive for a city like Thunder Bay, he said. Larger cities can absorb that fee due to their size, parking rates, and number of spaces offered.

"Our meter inventory isn't that big, our rates are low, so for us, the margin is a lot finer,” Coady said.

“We didn't have the ability to eat that without going back to the drawing board."

For the time being, parking meters along city streets will be repaired.

"Within the next year we really need to replace what we have because it is very outdated,” Coady said of the meters that were bought and installed more than a decade ago.

“We're able to limp it along with help from the people who sold them to us, but barely."