If you notice suspicious activity around parking meters in downtown Trail – day or night- the city is encouraging you to contact the Trail RCMP immediately.
At least 30 parking metres have been broken into and coins removed since the first week of May.
That leaves Trail taxpayers on the hook to pay for well over $16,000 in damages, not to mention lost revenue from the meters themselves.
“What’s been really unsettling recently is the rash of vandalism that we’ve experienced over the past weeks to our parking meters,” Corporate Administrator Michelle McIsaac said. “It’s frustrating, (considering) the cost of the repairs compared to the benefit that these people would have secured by breaking into them … there’s been considerable damage so it has been referred to the RCMP and there is an active investigation underway.”
Greater Trail RCMP Sgt. Darren Oelke confirmed there have been two rashes of damage to meters and theft of cash. The first spate occurred the weekend of May 4 to May 6 and the second, from May 11 to May 13.
“We are following up on a bunch of leads,” Oelke told the Times. “We are looking to identify a younger male and female who were pushing a baby stroller in the downtown around the time of the latest incident.”
Video surveillance may also help identify the culprit or culprits as municipal cameras are situated throughout the downtown core.
Officers will be reviewing the footage Oelke said, clarifying as of Wednesday, police have made no arrests.
If anyone is caught and charged, there’s no recourse in terms of financial recovery, Chief Administrative Officer David Perehudoff pointed out.
“You can’t get blood from a stone, so to speak,” he said. “Taxpayers are going to be on the hook for a significant expenditure because of this desperation to pick up a few dollars worth of coin.”
He suggested council start thinking about the bigger picture in terms of paid parking.
“It’s been well over 10 years since we did the major retrofit so now we are getting to a point where the meters are getting to the end of their useful life,” Perehudoff explained. “And if this whole issue around theft is going to be prevalent we’ll have to look at other options … including moving away from meter heads and posts and installing centralized kiosks where you can pay by card.”
In the meantime, McIsaac is pursuing whether or not it would be beneficial to file a claim with the city’s property insurer.
As the incidents occurred on two separate evenings, two claims may have to be filed. Because the city’s deductible is $10,000 per claim, it may not be worth going down that avenue.
McIsaac’s report on parking meter vandalism came up as part of her corporate services update at the Monday governance meeting.
Another attention-grabbing summary had to do with the number of parking tickets handed out this year.
A total of 4010 parking tickets had been issued by the end of April. Compared to the same time frame last year, that’s almost three times the number of tickets (1890).
“The most common infractions are for expired parking meters or parking without a paid permit as required,” McIsaac noted. “However, random patrols for enforcement of the two-hour time limits at the metered stalls are also conducted, on a priority basis where the parking stalls are in most demand.”
Year-to-date net surplus from parking totaled $35,700 by March 31.