Reporter Vanessa Balintec will be working for The Haliburton County Echo and the Minden Times this summer. /DARREN LUM

New parking system for medical centre

By Chad Ingram

Council discussed options for replacing the pay gate at the Haliburton Family Medical Centre after the gate was vandalized to the point of irreparable damage in November.

On Nov. 15 the unit was badly damaged when someone broke it stealing the coin exchanger and bill collector from within which contained about $420 on that day. The unit was damaged beyond repair.

A report from bylaw officer Kristen Boylan priced out replacement options including a flat rate system that would cost about $22000 and an hourly system that would cost about $35000. Both of those systems would include outdoor kiosks at the gate. Another option would include a token system where users would purchase tokens from a machine in medical centre’s lobby depositing them at the gate on the way out. There was some concern expressed about token machines their propensity for jamming particularly when patrons mistakenly try to deposit coins in them.

Councillor John Smith said he’d like to see the kind of system employed at many hospitals where the patron deposits cash into a machine in the lobby then takes a receipt which is then used for proof of payment and is scanned to electronically activate a gate on the way out.

Boylan said she’s looking into those systems and they cost somewhere between $60000 and $100000.

Smith said he’d like to investigate the option.

“We’re talking about a device here that we’re going to use for 10 or 15 years” he said.

Other members of council agreed they preferred the type of unit Smith was talking about and a new staff report will come back to the table in the new year.

There was also some discussion but no decision as yet about changing the fee structure at the medical centre.

Currently there is a flat rate of $2 for the day. There are also two spaces that are provided for free parking up to a maximum of 15 minutes.

It was the staff recommendation that a new system include the first 15 minutes free for everybody then a fee of $3 for the first half hour then an additional $1 per hour after that up to a maximum of $5 per day.

For the sake of simplicity Deputy Mayor Pat Kennedy said he preferred 15 minutes free then a flat rate of $3 per day.

Under the current system of $2 per day between $40000 and $50000 is paid in the parking lot each year and it’s anticipated a $3 fee would increase those revenues by about $20000. Treasurer Barbara Swannell said that the $20000 difference could be used to pay off the new machine over a five-year period.