Lighter toonies and loonies create $40M headache

Lighter loonies and toonies are creating problems for those who use coin-operated machines, including municipalities which must upgrade their equipment to accept the new coins.

Toronto will spend $1M to convert parking meters

The new loonies and toonies, which are made of multi-ply plated steel, are lighter than their alloy predecessors, a spokesman from the Royal Canadian Mint says. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Lighter loonies and toonies are creating problems for those who use coin-operated machines, including municipalities which must upgrade their equipment to accept the new coins.

A January article in the Canada Gazette, the official newspaper of the Canadian government, estimated there would be a one-time cost of $40 million to the vending industry as a whole to recalibrate "coin acceptance equipment."

Gwyn Thomas, president of the Toronto Parking Authority, says their meters have to be readjusted to accept the metal content of the 2012 loonies and toonies.

It will cost more than $1 million to upgrade the city's 3,000 machines. The city says the process, which is planned to be underway next week, should take until the summer.

Thomas said the costs are "part of doing business."

The Calgary Parking Authority has budgeted $30,000 to upgrade its 770 parking meters, although those costs do not include internal labour expenses, the Toronto Star reported.

"It's not just the parking industry that has a problem, it's the vending industry in general," Thomas said.

That includes Bernie Baxter, who owns Value Vending in Elmsdale, N.S.

Baxter told CBC News he has to send to Ontario a component of each of 130 machines so they can be recalibrated to recognize the new loonies and toonies.

Along with the government's new polymer bills, Baxter estimates he will spend $10,000 over the next 12 months to update his equipment.

One business owner on Toronto's Queen Street, who operates a laundromat, estimated she'll have to pay around $5,000 to update her machines.

$16M in cost savings

The new loonie weighs 6.27 grams while the toonie comes in at 6.92 grams, according to the Canada Gazette.

The 2012 one- and two-dollar coins are lighter because they are now being made of multi-ply plated steel, which makes them cheaper to produce than their alloy predecessors, said Alex Reeves, a senior communications manager at the Royal Canadian Mint.

The Canada Gazette estimates the cost savings at $16 million a year.

Reeves said the new metal content in the loonies and toonies is a result of a 2010 budget directive, adding that people will just have to readjust their machines.

More than one billion loonies have been produced since their introduction in 1987, while 700 million toonies have been issued since 1996.

The government has already introduced multi-ply plated versions of the penny, nickel, dime and quarter.