The real cost of change

It’s typical senior government, top-down decision making and it might end up costing local taxpayers big time.

It’s typical senior government, top-down decision making and it might end up costing local taxpayers big time.

The Royal Canadian Mint is getting set to launch new loonies and toonies later this year that weigh less and cost the government less to produce. You won’t notice the change of weight in your pocket, but according the city Nelson taxpayers might end up feeling the impact in their pocketbook.

The story on Page 3 of today’s paper explains that this “imperceptible” change by the mint will mean the city’s parking meters will no longer work properly. At this moment, anybody who has arrived to their vehicle to see a white ticket tucked under their wiper blade might be saying “yay, no more meters.” But like it or not, parking meter revenue is a very important line item for this community when it comes to budget time.

Parking meters are not going anywhere. They are a fact of life in the city’s core and vital to a proper flow of traffic. So in order to deal with the tiny change in weight, the city is going to have to modernize the meters. It comes at a cost.

The city’s chief financial officer Colin McClure estimates that in the worst case scenario the cost to update and replace the meters could run as high as $500,000. Though it’s likely to be significantly less, even an unexpected $100,000 hit is crippling to our city’s budget process.

At a time when stress on the city’s coffers is at an all-time high, a surprise like this can have a huge impact on our current services and future projects.

What’s most disappointing is the mint’s response. When we contacted them it was pretty much an “oh well, deal with it” type of reply. It’s saving the federal government money and it seems that’s all decision makers in Ottawa really care about.

On the streets of Nelson the new lighter coins could weigh heavy on what services the city is able to provide in the coming years.


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