CORNER BROOK — The recent change to our change is causing headaches for consumers.
The new, lighter toonies and loonies in circulation are costing less for the federal government to produce, but ultimately costing the motoring public.
Many parking meters are declining the new coins leading frustrated coin-users — including Corner Brook resident Deborah Bown, who has encountered problems at the meters while shopping and visiting city hall.
“I haven’t used them lately for that exact reason,” said Bown. “I have had countless problems with the new coins in the parking meters. The shinier coins, dated after 2010 and the Olympic quarters would go in, but the amount of time left would not increase.”
The change to the multi-ply plated steel from nickel for the new coins is estimated to save the federal government $16 million a year. The new steel technology is cheaper to mint than their alloy predecessors.
In the meantime, the change to the currency is estimated to cost the vending industry $40 million nationwide to recalibrate equipment to accept the new coins.
According to Jeff Pickett, manager of community service for the City of Corner Brook, there hasn’t been any problems with the city’s meters.
“A software upgrade was made available by our meter manufacturer, after they notified us of the upcoming changes to the coin,” said Pickett. “We (the city) then proceeded to upload the new software upgrade in early May of this year.
“And to my knowledge, and I checked with our enforcement staff, we have not had any problems that are a direct result of the new coin.”
Pickett said the city would fix the meters if they knew there was a problem.
“We have continued to do maintenance on a continuous basis on our meters and once we are made aware of problems with purr units we work on getting it repaired fairly quickly.”
Initially the Royal Canadian Mint reported the weight reduction would not be an issue, since 2001 the agency has produced coins using the multilayer plating process. However, the new plated coins have an electromagnetic signal for vending machines, which meant that vending machines, and parking meters, require a software upgrade.
On the Royal Canadian Mint website, the agency admits that Canadians will experience difficulty with the new coins as a result of machines not being upgraded or recalibrated.
However, there is no alternative to the coins. There’s no Canadian dollar or two-dollar bills any longer, and with more than a billion loonies in circulation since 1987, along with 700 million toonies since their creation in 1997 — consumers will just have to put up with their change.
The good news: the loonie is trading near a 10-year high — it only feels less substantial, thanks to its new look.
Canada’s new paper bills, or polymeric bills, are also new on the scene and are a lightweight, plastic-like addition to the wallets of consumers.
The new $20 plastic bill is coming this fall, with new $10s and $5s arriving next year. There are also expected to be problems with bill-accepting machines when these arrive.