Downtown Meters being replaced by Pay and Display

Effective August 12, parking meters Downtown will be replaced by Pay and Display. That’s when the meters will come out and the already installed Pay and Display machines will be in operation (see the locations below) with the exception of accessible parking meters. The change is needed to reduce costs, reduce the amount of maintenance, allow credit card payment (without using HonkMobile) and more. Similar machines are already in use on the waterfront (see photo below) and they are ubiquitous in other municipalities. The low rate of $1 per hour will continue although this rate is only for downtown. The rate on the waterfront is $2 per hour although that only applies in the summer (Victoria Day to Thanksgiving weekends).


  • King Street West between Spring Street and Division Street (north and south sides)
  • King Street East between Division and McGill St (north and south sides)
  • Third Street, south of Albert Street (east side) – photo below, waiting to be unwrapped.
  • Other locations such as McGill south of Queen St will lose meters too.

It has not been explained (yet) why “accessible” parking meters will stay.  Maybe the Pay & Display machines are not accessible?  This note will be updated once the Town provides an answer.

One of the photos below shows a Pay and Display machine currently in use at the West end of the Esplanade. There are several similar machines on King Street waiting to be put into service.

Why change?

The Town’s announcement said:

The existing coin-operated parking meters along King Street are aging and require a lot of maintenance and staff time to empty, sort and count the coins. During the summer season the parking meters fill up at a quicker rate than they can be emptied by staff, which can take up to four hours to empty. By switching to Pay-and-Display machines, the Town will be able to:

  • Reduce risk of vandalism, theft of fares, damage and snow removal costs.
  • Ease staff time and resources required to empty the machines.
  • Minimize maintenance requirements and costs.
  • Modernize payment methods by offering a credit card option.
  • Have replacement parts readily available to make repairs.
  • Improve aesthetic for the downtown area by reducing the number of machines.

HonkMobile will continue to be available although it’s not clear how popular or useful it is. It seemed like a good idea but only if it works well for users – not everyone finds it easy to use.


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12 August 2021 6:45 am

I have just returned from downtown and have a few observations.
Looks great without all the parking meters cluttering the right of way.
The blue accessible meters stand out and makes one wonder why
they should not be eliminated and accessible parking be made free.
The number of pay and display machines should be increased 50%.

Ted Williams
10 August 2021 10:05 am

Why do we assume we must all deal with parking fees. I live in the far east end and frequently enjoy our waterfront. We need to get rid of these meters (very little profit for the public annoyance). At least sell us an annual parking pass.- first come, first serve.
I do not come to our beach to “feed Meters”, nor to be “put on the clock”, nor to leave a restaurant and upgrade my time, nor to “get a ticket” I come to relax and enjoy our beach and harbour!

Just Wondering
Reply to  Ted Williams
10 August 2021 7:00 pm

All of your “nots” make you a good candidate for public transit or to ride a bike. Problems solved.

Keith Oliver
8 August 2021 8:03 pm

Once again those who make decisions make them in the name of economic efficiency and not global accessibility, or what is best for a community or society as a whole.

I am 84, did not growup as the web and computer programming evolved. To me a computer is an incredible typewriter, email and Siri are wonderful means of exchanging and finding information. But Facebook, Instagram, tweeting to a convinced group of like-belivers, are a threat to a liberal, engaged democracy. To be honest I really don’t care what your dog had for lunch!

Instead of public meetings, in the course of which we could hear from and answer each other (and Staff or the Consultant), we now have Engage Cobourg, or Bang the Table, both of which are little more that crude voting machines

Parking meters that accept some form of internet payment exclude a significant part of our aging and impoverished population. There are ethical limits to the pursuit of cost effincirncy … this an example, and I hope others will speak out.

Just Wondering
Reply to  Keith Oliver
9 August 2021 7:51 am

These machines accept cash, so how is anyone excluded?

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Just Wondering
11 August 2021 8:47 pm

Just Wondering

You’re right. I missunderstood all the types of payment available. But my comments about the threat to public debate by the use of “Engage Cobourg” and “Bang the Table” stand. The quest for efficiency often goes too far and the consequences not fully recognized.


Reply to  Keith Oliver
9 August 2021 8:08 am

I don’t believer there are much in the way of cost reductions
Take out old , set up new , purchase , maintenance .
The only possible reduction would be reduction of staff , wages
and coin counters .

8 August 2021 5:22 pm

My experience has been: Long lineups to get your stub; machines are more fragile especially when interacting with ‘less experienced’ users. What happens when the Pay and Display machine, that covers a substantial parking area, fails: there is a lot of standing around hoping for rescue, followed by shrug of shoulders, followed by walking away, hoping that the enforcers recognize the failure of the equipment AND don’t lay a fine on you. I can see some of the benefits but I don’t see any of the necessary steps/processes to mitigate/remedy problems quickly.

Reply to  Gerinator
9 August 2021 11:40 am

Really long line in the town of Cobourg?

8 August 2021 2:19 pm

I person a know once got a ticket , as she was inline to buy a ticket at the machine by the beach, the by law office gave her a ticket before she get back to display on the dash

Reply to  Mark
9 August 2021 10:46 am

That happened to me twice down by the marina. I was only parked a few vehicles away from the machine, no lineups. The first time parking enforcement saw me get out of the car and walk to the machine. When I got back they were writing up the ticket and too bad for me. I was parked with no pay and display. The second time the person was extremely reasonable and apologized, no ticket issued.

Reply to  Linda
9 August 2021 12:19 pm

Complain to the Clerk (Brent Larmer). He is responsible for the Bylaw and Parking Enforcement Officers. File an official complaint if needed.

8 August 2021 10:53 am

I’ve lived in Cobourg too long! I seem to remember when the idea of paying for parking along King St. was first mooted some of us said – go for Pay and Display – it’s less of an eyesore than the machines. But someone found a good deal on, I think, some gently used meters, and convinced Council to go that route.🙀 So in they went.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  GailR
8 August 2021 3:55 pm

The meters installed on Church Street several years ago are used ones from the harbour,,rusty unreliable and discovered in the basement of the town hall.
I asked the workmen installing them as we had no prior knowledge of them being installed and that was what I was told.

Physically challenged
8 August 2021 8:42 am

The able-bodied do no find it hard to walk 1/2 a block to get a ticket from the pay and display before walking back to put the ticket on the dash. Someone who parks in a disabled spot can find it difficult to do that.

Reply to  Physically challenged
8 August 2021 10:00 am

with the exception of accessible parking meters.”….please read all of John’s post to get all details!

Mrs. J.
Reply to  Cobourger
8 August 2021 10:17 am

True, but frequently those accessible parking spots are already used, so a handicapped person HAS to park in a regular spot with much difficulty!!!
“Walk a day in their shoes.”

Reply to  Physically challenged
8 August 2021 10:11 am

More Work for the Payor less work for the Paid

George Taylor
8 August 2021 8:39 am

actual money, debit card, credit card, bit coin?

8 August 2021 8:36 am

Again I see the town is saving money as they have with the new water meters
by reducing a staff person and payroll Great now we won’t be using the 2 Bylaw enforcement officers to collect from the meters and they can get on with the real Job at hand .
Secondly this will not reduce Vandalism these machines are deliberately broken by users to avoid payment I see this all over Tor & Kingston thus a note is placed in the window stating the machine was out of order, and I now suppose we need a well trained Modernized Repair person
By the way anyone see a Bylaw person our Condo Board has been calling the Towns Bylaw Dept for 10 days now leaving 5 messages and not a single return call .

Reply to  Sandpiper
8 August 2021 6:23 pm

OMG! You are so right Sandpiper. A friend of mine has been calling the By-law Dept. every day for over a week. Crickets.

Reply to  Kathleen
9 August 2021 11:46 am

Because there are only two of them. Ask council to hire more staff.

Reply to  Concerned
9 August 2021 12:22 pm

Council is not responsible for staff and can not direct staff to do anything. Direct your comment to the Clerk and the CAO.

Reply to  Bryan
9 August 2021 12:29 pm

Council controls the budget not staff they decide what is in or out did you not watch the budget sessions last fall?

Reply to  Concerned
10 August 2021 7:47 am

The budget belongs to staff. They prepare it, decide what is in or out. Council does approve it and rarely makes any substantive changes.

Budget approval is not the issue here.
You wrote: “…Ask council to hire more staff…” My point was that the mayor or any council member do not have the authority to approve anything or direct staff to do anything.

If you are dissatisfied with the bylaw enforcement service and believe more officers are needed, take your complaints to the ones responsible, the ones with the authority to make changes…..the Clerk and CAO

Reply to  Bryan
11 August 2021 2:35 pm

You clearly don’t watch budgetary council meetings, if you did you would see that the decisions and direction come from council, staff only makes recommendations. I didn’t say I was dissatisfied with by-law many of the complaints In this post were about a lack of enforcement not happening and I simply stated that it is hard to do it with only two by-law officers. You need to educate yourself on who makes the monetary decisions at budget time it certainly isn’t staff, again they only recommend. If staff
Made the decision they would have to bring it forward to council for approval now would they.

Reply to  Concerned
11 August 2021 8:54 pm

I do indeed watch Council’s budget meetings and in my experience, Council rarely makes any substantive changes to the budget prepared and presented by staff. The conclusion then is that staff do a very good job preparing the Town’s budget which is approved by Council with perhaps nominal changes. Therefore, staff “controls” it.
To determine who is in control, examine what happens in practice, not what the “theory” says.

Reply to  Bryan
9 August 2021 12:31 pm

They direct things every council meeting open the beach close the beach etc. No parking on east side of street x. That is directing. Direct day to day operations you are correct but this council gets involved in operations constantly.

Last edited 1 year ago by Concerned
Reply to  Concerned
10 August 2021 7:47 am

Council does not “direct” very often. Direction means that they initiated the action. Council does “approve” the programs and projects initiated by staff on a regular basis as part of their oversight responsibility mandated by the Municipal Act.

Reply to  Bryan
11 August 2021 2:41 pm

Now your splitting hairs, if they don’t like something it doesn’t get approved. Thus the direction given is, yes do this or no you won’t do this. So split hairs all you want but council controls the almighty dollar and what occurs. The perfect proof of that is staff having to bring projects to council that were already approved during the budget process which makes zero sense. But yes the “recommendation” does come from staff, but approval for the majority of items comes from council especially this one.

Michael Sprayson
Reply to  Sandpiper
8 August 2021 11:56 pm

We have been trying to get a call back too. Have even sent emails and filled out the electronic form online when you wish to engage the bylaw officer(s). Nothing back at all.

Reply to  Michael Sprayson
9 August 2021 8:00 am

We Called the Mayors office and asked that he have all his respective Departments
review their Voice mail and we didn’t even get a call back or response from his office or staff over a wk ago now

Michael Sprayson
Reply to  Sandpiper
9 August 2021 11:49 am

I wonder if we are calling about the same thing….

Reply to  Sandpiper
9 August 2021 12:16 pm

Sandpiper & Michael Spreayson:

You’re calling the wrong person.
The Mayor or any Council member is not responsible for staff and can not direct staff to do anything.
You should have (and I believe you did) call the CAO. She has been off for the past few weeks with a medical issue, which may be why your emails haven’t been answered. This is not an excuse however. There should be a staff member assigned to cover.
Contact the Clerk (Brent Larmer) and file an official complaint. This documents the issue, starts the clock and requires a response within a defined period (30 days I believe).
You have taken the initial steps, don’t give up now. See it through to completion.
File the complaint.

Michael Sprayson
Reply to  Bryan
9 August 2021 12:56 pm

Bryan – I’m not prepared to let it go. First thing we did was file with the electronic form on the website. The clock started. That was more than two weeks ago.

Reply to  Sandpiper
9 August 2021 11:45 am

Well if the town would hire more than two by-law officers maybe we could get some service. Only having two is absolutely ridiculous. The beach,downtown and just regular complaints, oh and if one is sick or on holidays then we are down to one? But again it they did people would complain because the budget would have to increase to hire more staff. Never ending circle people in this town want more but aren’t willing to pay for it. Services aren’t free.

Last edited 1 year ago by Concerned
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Concerned
9 August 2021 12:54 pm

Using town staff instead of expensive consultants would allow hiring necessary bylaw people without spending more overall.

Reply to  Ken Strauss
11 August 2021 3:07 pm

Ken that is wishful thinking as council, probably correctly, does not place an emphasis on by-law enforcement. Even if the money was there I would argue it is better spent elsewhere. I think some are misunderstanding my comments. I am only responding to those who are complaining about a lack of by-law enforcement and stating if they want more enforcement then more by-law officers are needed.

8 August 2021 8:28 am

I am not sure how many machines will be installed, but I only saw 4 (?) on King
Street. That means get a spot, walk to machine, walk back to
vehicle….will there be a map of locations? I use the machine at the Post Office

Cobourg taxpayer
7 August 2021 7:18 pm

I often walk downtown and don’t need paid parking. Frequently I glance at a parking meter and almost as frequently they are not working. How much profit has been made yearly from the meters? Subtracting the cost of town of Cobourg staff that check/empty them would be an interesting figure. The number of people who sit/picnic in/near their vehicles is high. If a parking spot is occupied with a person in the vehicle or not it should be paid for. The rates seem low to me particularly near the beach. Hopefully these new machines bring in more profit and actually work.

Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
7 August 2021 11:02 pm

From the Town’s budget documents:
Parking earned the Town the following net income:
2018 actual: $ 85,142
2019 actual: $219,028
2020 actual: $ (42,858)
2021 Budget: $108,253