NEWS — Improvements are on the way for those much-maligned downtown parking kiosks, corporate services and community safety director David Duckworth told City council today.
The status of the kiosks was part of his department’s annual report to council.
Duckworth admitted the kiosks have been a source of complaints.
“A lot of the complaints have been around the screen,” he said. The screen will be made easier to read, and a new app for smart phones will be ready to go soon.
Coun. Arjun Singh asked if there’s latitude in the contract for the kiosks to make changes. “People are saying the thing is too short, I have to bend down, etc.” He said there have been positives as well, especially the fact people can now park for three hours.
Duckworth said the screen height is designed so that people in wheelchairs are able to read it. “With respect to the particular model, that’s the model we purchased.”
However, he said, the screens can be made easier to read with the addition of colour.
Singh said some people say the buttons are hard to push when it’s cold. Wilson said the new smartphone app will help with that.
“When we roll out the smartphone option, people can activate parking from inside their cars. You don’t even have to go up to one of these machines and use it.”
Asked when the app will be rolled out, Wilson said, “I don’t want to say a specific date but we’ve been told it will be available in February, but it’s critical we have an opportunity to test it.” He said promotion of the new app will be important.
“It’s pretty friendly,” he said of setting up an account for the app.
“We appreciate the public has been relatively patient,” he added.
Parking revenue last year was up three percent to $1.4 million.
The report also noted that dogs continue to be a major source of complaints to City bylaws officers.
The report said almost a third of bylaws calls — 28 per cent — involved animals, and most of those were about dogs.
There are about 7,800 licensed dogs in the city. Seven per cent of the calls, or 130 calls, were for reported aggression. In answer to a question from Coun. Nellie Dever, Wilson said some were repeat calls.
The report also said 66 calls were answered for panhandling, about the same as in 2012, and 144 for transient camps, up from 126 in 2012.
Of the 21,500 total fines issued last year, only 31 were disputed.
Duckworth said much work has been done on internal communications in his department. ”I think we’ve made some great strides,” he told council.
The far-ranging support also touched on fire services, legislative services and policing services.