NEWS

New loonies still gobbled up by Vancouver parking meters

05/16/2012 02:00 EDT | Updated 07/16/2012 05:12 EDT

Thousands of Vancouver parking meters are still gobbling up the loonies and toonies of unsuspecting customers because they have not been recalibrated to accept the new coins.

Chris McWilliam walked away $2 poorer on Tuesday after a parking meter on Commercial Drive gobbled his coin but registered no time on the meter.

"It's a nuisance. There was no notification, no warning. Two dollars is $2," said McWilliam.

In April, the Royal Canadian mint started to phase in new loonies and toonies. The new coins are multi-ply plated steel rather than nickel, making them lighter, cheaper to produce and harder to counterfeit.

But since they were released the coins have been trouble for everything from TransLink ticket vending machines to parking meters, which do not recognize the lighter coins.

Vancouver's parking manager Taryn Scollard says about 70 per cent of the city's parking meters have since been recalibrated, but there's still another 3,000 to go.

The city hopes to upgrade all the parking meters by the end of the month, she says.

"The majority of the meters that have yet to be fixed are the credit card enabler meters and we are putting warning stickers on the other meters."

But not all the un-calibrated meters have warning stickers yet, and that's leaving unsuspecting customers miffed.

The Mint says it notified businesses about the change as early as 2010, but the city says it didn't get their hands on the actual coin until it was released publicly.

If people run into problems at the meter, they can call the customer service line to find another payment option, says Scollard.

TransLink says at least one vending machine at every SkyTrain station has been upgraded to accept the new coins.

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