There are new options to pay for parking in town, for residents and visitors, that are expected to phase out the current pay and display machines over time.
Coun. Norm Arsenault is excited about the new Honk Mobile, which he says offers great and simple options for those who are visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake, for a few hours, a day, or longer. At the moment, Honk offers choices for those parking in the Old Town, as an easy alternative to pay and display meters, he says.
But he envisions using the available technology to serve residents better as well, through a permit system that can be accessed and paid for through Honk. For those living in The Village, Niagara-on-the-Green or any neighbourhood where the town’s 12-hour parking bylaw causes issues for residents, such a permit could be an attractive option, as long as the price is reasonable, he says.
Honk Mobile offers parking in towns and cities across North America, including Toronto and Hamilton. In the region, it’s available in Niagara Falls, and at Niagara College.
There are options for those who want to use it as a “one-off,” says Arsenault, when it’s a simple matter of scanning a code at a parking meter. Or motorists can download the Honk app, for free, at www.honkmobile.com or via the App Store or Google Play if they think they will use it more than once, including in locations other than NOTL. Bylaw officers can determine whether parking has been paid for through Honk through the licence plate number on a car, he explains.
Parking rates remain the same, but there is a “convenience fee” of 25 cents.
Once drivers have paid for parking, they can choose to receive a text alert update when their time is about to expire, and add more time without going back to their vehicle.
“If you’re sitting in a restaurant and you receive an alert that your time is running out, you can add time without leaving the restaurant,” says Arsenault.
The HonkAPP also offers a contactless payment option for drivers who wish to pay for parking and manage a session directly from their phone.
In its rollout of Honk parking, the town assures residents and visitors pay and display parking machines will continue to be available during the 2021 season, giving visitors and residents the option of using the meters on the street.
Arsenault says while they may be available for longer, they are outdated, and expensive to maintain or to change pricing.
At a recent council meeting, he asked for staff to investigate using the technology to include a permit system. Honk has the ability to offer visitors and residents, using their phone, the opportunity to sign up for hourly, daily, weekly and monthly parking passes.
Although one councillor referred to that as a “tax grab,” Arsenault stresses it would not be mandatory. It is just an option that might help out residents who have issues with too many cars for their driveway, and are ticketed for exceeding the 12-hour parking bylaw. In recent years several residents have asked for a parking solution, and this could be it, he says.
It would be helpful for residents who have visitors, and not enough parking, and for those who come to stay in town for a day, weekend or longer, and want to move around, he adds.
Honk options “bring NOTL into the 21st century. The technology exists, and we should be taking advantage of it.”