Parking meters across Yellowknife are being upgraded to accept payment through a new phone app.

The updated meters have been appearing since January 2. All meters in the city – around 800 in total – either are or will soon be payable through the MacKay Pay downloadable app.

However, this doesn’t mean you can now top up your one-hour or two-hour meter all day long from the comfort of your downtown office.

Doug Gillard, the City’s Manager of Municipal Enforcement, told Cabin Radio the app will not allow users to renew a parking space once they reach the first one-hour or two-hour limit. Drivers must either move their car to a different space, go out and pay using coins, or wait until the next day before the app will accept a new payment for the same space.

“We still want people who are parking for work to park at the nine-hour meters,” said Gillard.

‘Cashless society’

Meters payable by app should have been introduced last summer, according to Gillard, but delays arose as the software behind the meters was being developed.

January’s cold weather means all 800 meters must be removed and brought indoors by the municipal enforcement team for an update, before being restored to their locations.

“It wasn’t the best timing,” admitted Gillard. “We expected it to happen over the summer or even the fall but it’s taken a lot longer to get the app up and running.

“The benefit to the City is we have less coin to deal with. Right now we collect $12,000 per week that has to be sorted, wrapped and transported to the bank.

“There’s speculation that Canada is going to be a cashless society in about 10 years and that was the biggest motivating factor, giving people an alternate way of paying. We heard from the public that people don’t have a lot of change on hand.”

Officers can use smartphones to check whether a meter has been paid through the app, or – for example, if the weather is too cold for a phone to function – they can make radio contact with clerks at City Hall, who can use software to check on their behalf.

“I don’t think it’ll save us money but what it might do is, instead of us having to collect the money every week – because the coin cups can only handle so much coin before they back up and jam the meter – we’re hoping to get to a point where we only have to do that every second week,” said Gillard.

“Instead, we can be out doing enforcement.”