When Jasper, Alberta, introduced paid parking in the summer of 2021, the small mountain town became a North American leader in low-cost, agile digital payment solutions
One of Canada’s leading tourist destinations, the municipality knew that paid parking could be a significant new revenue source. But it did not want to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in costly parking infrastructure, such as pay stations, which also require ongoing maintenance. The solution? A fully digital solution eliminating the need for pricey equipment investment. Working with HotSpot, a leading parking payments provider, on the technology and implementation, Jasper adopted a smartphone-first system for its bustling downtown, the first community in North America to cut out pay machines entirely.
Automation at its Best
Before implementing its new digital solution, Jasper’s parking operations consisted of a couple of bylaw officers enforcing parking rules for accessible parking locations. Otherwise, parking was free because the town had no way to collect revenues. Residents essentially subsidized any costs related to parking through property taxes, while the millions of annual visitors paid nothing. When it comes to parking, somebody always pays, so this 5,000-person community was paying for all the tourists. To transform parking from a drain to a revenue generator, HotSpot installed parking payment signage at no cost to the town. The signs outline two options for parkers: scan a QR code to pay via a digital wallet, like Apple Pay, or download the HotSpot app and pay through it.
Policy and Public Relations Support
This revolutionary parking system needed the buy-in of the municipal government and the community to succeed. HotSpot worked with the town throughout the process, including at the policy level, to address objections and ensure a smooth launch. One of the biggest concerns was how people who didn’t have phones or preferred to use cash could pay for their parking. HotSpot worked with the municipality to create an alternative, pay-in-person option at town hall. And ahead of the launch, HotSpot provided public relations and communications support to build awareness among citizens, local businesses and visitors about the new parking system to eliminate objections and answer questions.
Jasper launched the new digital parking program in Mid-July, and in the first two weeks since then, it has collected approximately 2,000 digital payments. Of those, 80% paid via QR code, the other 20% through the app. Less than 20 people came into the town office to pay with cash. Complaints have been minimal and parking revenues in just 2 1/2 months are approaching $100,000.Jasper’s payment model with HotSpot is a simple commission of 10%of revenues. For that, HotSpot handles all the customer service and any technical issues. This pilot project proves a no-cost, low-barrier option for smaller communities that allows them to maximize parking profits while eliminating capital investment.