What you need to know about HRM's new paid-parking system
Digital parking stations have replaced meters in most of Halifax and downtown Dartmouth
Drivers looking to park in the Halifax Regional Municipality will now pay at digital parking stations instead of on-street parking meters.
The new solar-powered stations, which went into effect Tuesday, require people to input their licence plate number and choose a parking zone before paying.
"The key to the new system is that residents need to know their licence plate, so we have people out today, street teams, giving out key chains where they can write their licence plate on the back of the key chain so that residents can have it handy," Victoria Horne, manager of parking services, told CBC's Information Morning.
The municipality has installed signs in areas with paid parking. There are eight zones listed A through H covering most of Halifax and downtown Dartmouth.
People can now park in the zones for up to four hours instead of up to two hours.
Rates vary by zone and drivers will be able to pay using coins, credit, debit, smart pay by phone, the HotSpot mobile app.
"We recognize that not everybody has a mobile phone and they don't have to use the HotSpot app if they do not wish to or if they don't like the idea of paying a fee, they can simply find the nearest ... station and there is no fee associated with your parking session," Horne said.
The HotSpot mobile app now allows drivers to pay a 10-cent fee per parking session to use the third-party app, or the annual option with no additional fees.
Parking rates have gone up
Parking increases were approved by municipal council last year and also came into effect on Tuesday.
In zones A through G, it costs $2 per hour for the first two hours and then $6 an hour for hours three and four. In zone H, it will cost $1.50 an hour for the first two hours and then $4 an hour for hours three and four.
"It's trying to encourage residents ... if they need to stay downtown longer, to find alternatives off street or perhaps take transit, use alternate modes, cycling," Horne said.
In the new system, payment is attached to people's vehicles, rather than the parking space, so vehicles can move freely within the parking zone within the allotted time.
There are still permit and hourly parking spots available in some areas.
The municipality has also made changes to permit parking, allowing people to now buy and manage permits online.
"We've also introduced new permits with the system, so we have a student parking permit and just more flexibility with the permits as well," Horne said.
She said staff spent a lot of time researching the new pay stations to make sure they can withstand Nova Scotia winters and vandalism.
"We do anticipate that we'll have to go clear some off when we get particularly heavy snow," she said. "But other than that, they have been tested up to –40 and in all kinds of sideways rain and ice rain, so we're pretty confident in their ability in winter weather."
With files from CBC's Information Morning