What if Kingston…

Community Supported Agriculture, csaOur What if Kingston series explores ideas that we think could make Kingston an even better place to live. Sometimes these ideas go a little beyond what might actually be possible for ygk, but it’s fun to imagine the possibilities, and who’s to say a variation on some of these thoughts couldn’t work here?  Today’s idea is, in my opinion, quite plausible, and one that I think most Kingstonians would joyfully embrace.

There is fairly regular discussion and debate about parking in downtown Kingston. We’ve talked about permit parking, metered parking, free parking and pedestrian only areas, and these topics always spark a lot of passion from our readers.

This past weekend I was rehearsing for a concert downtown and, based on the change I had available, I would have to leave in the middle of my rehearsal to feed the meter – not ideal.  Luckily our break lined up perfectly with me running out to stick my credit card in the machine, but that doesn’t always happen (and it takes forever to process!) We’ve all been in similar situations where we just can’t leave where we are to feed a meter, whether we’re waiting in line for something, our appointment is running late or we simply don’t have time to run three blocks away to where we parked our car.

What if The City of Kingston made it easier for us to top up our parking meter?

PayByPhone, an app and website that allows you to pay for parking using your smart phone, is growing in popularity in major cities all over North America, the UK and France. Many Canadian cities are on board including Ottawa, London, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg and Trois-Rivières, to name a few. The app, available on Apple, Android and Blackberry devices, allows users to pay for their parking by making a call, sending a text, or you can skip the app altogether and log into a website. This means: no more need for loose change and the ability to pay remotely from the safety of inside your car, while at the dentist’s office or sitting in the theatre (ringer off!) You can even receive an optional text message alerting you that your time is close to expiring.

PayByPhone would mean less hassle for Kingstonians and tourists, and more money flowing in for parking fees. While tickets also generate cash, not all offenders are caught, and let’s face it, one of the main reasons a lot of us don’t feed the meter is simply because we don’t have the coinage on hand, not because we don’t want to. The elimination of parking stubs would also save money and trees. How nice would it be to have fewer parking machines and more vegetation, benches and recycling bins in their place?

Of course, the city would have to make some changes to bring PayByPhone to Kingston. Parking policies such as the three hour limit would have to be reviewed.  There would also be an initial investment to equip parking officers with the handheld device required to monitor parking.  And then there is education.  Applying a new system to something that has been around a long time is always a challenge, but that shouldn’t stop progress.  It would take time to get people up to speed and yes, there are still many of us who don’t own smartphones.  Luckily, the phone number and website are available through any telephone or computer.

While it may take time and money to achieve smooth sailing, looking to the future and finding new, innovative ideas will help us reach our goal to become Canada’s Most Sustainable City. What do you think about PayByPhone? Could it work in Kingston? Have you ever used it in another city?  Drop off your comments below.

Thanks to Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures for today’s pic.

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  1. Peter Mautner May 8, 2014
    • TedSmitts May 12, 2014

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