City has to pony up an additional $165 thousand for a parking system that works

News 100 redBy Staff

July 12, 2021



Parking and fireworks are two issues that always draw attention and phone calls to the office of city Councillors.

In a recent Standing Committee Staff was recommending that:

The Director of Transportation Services proceed with the installation of occupancy sensors in all Municipally owned off-street parking facilities in downtown Burlington for a total cost of $165,000 to be funded from the Downtown Parking District Reserve Fund.

Parking sign

The signs that were tied into the sensors wasn’t providing accurate data.

There have been sensors on the streets of the city for some time – getting accurate data on how many spaces were available in the city owned parking lots was proving to be awkward. The software that came with the signs that indicate how many parking spaces were available were having a problem with the math – they didn’t seem to be able to count.

The collection of accurate parking data for Downtown Burlington is critical not only for the day to day operation of the parking supply but also important for planning where and when future parking is to be built.

In 2016, staff brought forward a report which recommended the installation of parking occupancy sensors at all on-street parking spaces as well as the entry/exits points of parking lots in Downtown Burlington to accurately capture and display parking usage and availability. Council approved a budget of $525,000.00 to implement the technology and devices and in 2017 the parking sensors were installed.

Some of the sensors have proven to be very reliable and staff have used the on-street occupancy data to make informed decisions of where parking should be and have been able to report on parking initiatives and parking supply.

Parking MMW + Brian Dean with head of meter

Everyone was in on the photo op – this was a good news story.  Then – not as good a story today.

However, the types of sensors that were installed in the downtown parking lots, unfortunately did not meet the City of Burlington’s expectations.

Staff considered and tested a number of alternatives with the sensor technology for the parking lot entrances and after careful examination concluded that the devices used for the on-street parking application are most appropriate for the off street lots. The cost associated with the supply and installation of 750 parking sensors in all of the downtown parking lots is $165,000.

Burlington’s city owned downtown lots have been without accurate monitoring for some time. In order to present a complete picture of the parking supply to downtown visitors, the lots must be incorporated into the system. Given the favourable weather conditions and the fact that parking lots are not yet at full capacity, installation in the summer months this year is preferred.

Staff anticipate that installation will be undertaken by the existing vendor as a single source given that the sensors must work with the present communication system in place. With approval of this report, staff can move forward with award and implementation this summer.

The cost for the parking sensors and associated installation costs of approximately $165,000 will be funded through the Downtown Parking District Reserve Fund. The funds in the Reserve account come from the merchant community and are not actual tax payer dollars.

In the debate and discussion we listened to there was no mention of a discount or a refund from the people who provided the system we have in place now for that part of the system the city bought that didn’t meet the expectation.

Why not?

Related news story:

City contacts for new parking meters

Official installation – the system was working – that was in May of 2016


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3 comments to City has to pony up an additional $165 thousand for a parking system that works

  • Stephen

    Overkill. We don’t need to have sensors tabulate the number of cars with fancy signs. Just count the income earned. Waste of money

  • We and we are sure all the downtown BIA members who have put money in these reserves can think of a lot better way to spend $165,000 of their reserves at this time. Especially when it is city parking problem where the city collects revenue….. our downtown businesses deserve much better decision making than they presently get from our Council.

  • Cathy Lamb

    The system in parking lots has been a disaster for well over two years, with excuse after excuse from staff
    We will all be watching for a new and functional system which comes with a big price tag for taxpayers