FOULDS: Those Keystone Kops kiosks strike again

If boosters of the North Shore want to add to their marketing campaign, they might look to the public-relations nightmare that stands in about 90 spots across the river, in downtown Kamloops.

The creative minds in the Tranquille Market could add a tag line to those undecided about where to shop: “Over here, you will for Shore know the price to park. Over there, who knows?”

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While the North Shore business district continues to add to its eclectic mix, adding brew pubs, condos, restaurants, cafes and delis, it also offers free parking to visitors.

Downtown is also adding vibrant shops and seeing major renovations and construction projects, but the fact parking is not free and spaces often hard to find turns off many a patron.

Central to the consternation are the relatively new parking kiosks the city installed five years ago.

About 90 of the newfangled machines replaced 850 of the old parking meters, the slate-grey ones that looked a bit like E.T.

For $1.7 million, the city got digital machines that process payments slower than molasses in January, feature a screen almost impossible to read when the sun is high and formerly offered a pay-by-phone option with an interest rate that loan sharks would envy.

The latter feature, the pay-by-phone option, was recently changed and no longer carries with it the offensive vig.

Yes, the former pay-by-phone system — Telepark — has been replaced by something called Whoosh, perhaps because Telepark had the annoying habit of taking money from people’s bank accounts despite the fact they had only registered with the service.

Then there were the concerns of some that their financial data could be compromised because information from the new kiosks was being sent to a server in France. That server has since been relocated to Canada, if memory serves correct.

It seems the poor kiosks, and those who decided to buy them, can’t get any love.

And the problems continue.

As can be read on page A6 of today’s paper, free parking on Saturdays has led to more than $4,000 being deposited into those kiosks.

It appears this is the fault of drivers who failed to see signs attached to the kiosks advising of free parking on Saturdays through November and December.

It could also be the result of the signs being removed and tossed away, as noted by city bylaws manager Jon Ramsay.

Or it could be the result of these kiosks being cursed from Day 1.

The latest controversy, with thousands of dollars being spent on parking when parking was free, had Coun. Denis Walsh suggesting the city donate that money to the KTW Christmas Cheer Fund.

The fund benefits five worthy charities — Kamloops Brain Injury Association, The Mustard Seed New Life Community, Y Women’s Emergency Shelter, Boys and Girls Club Falcon Program and Out of the Cold shelter.

That wayward kiosk cash would be worth $800 to each of those charities and it would be money extremely well spent.

This latest Keystone Kops kiosk caper has led to some lightbulbs being illuminated over heads.

How about having the city post signs (preferably embedded in the kiosk and not ones that can be torn down) on the kiosks, advising that parking is free every Sunday and on Saturdays during designated months, but that donations to a worthy cause are appreciated?

Charities could apply and perhaps share in whatever revenue has been deposited on those free parking days.

It’s an idea worth considering, one that could elevate the kiosks from pariah to hero status.
Twitter: @ChrisJFoulds

© Kamloops This Week


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