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Sep 07, 2017 Return to Headlines

Licence Plate Readers Now Used to Enforce Parking Rules

by Robbin Whachell |

COQUITLAM, BC, Sept. 7, 2017 – Coquitlam is swapping tire chalk for technology to enforce payment and time limits in its busiest parking areas.

On Sept. 11, 2017 the City’s bylaw enforcement staff started using two vehicle-mounted Automated Licence Plate Reader (ALPR) units to monitor parking hotspots such as the City Centre and Burquitlam-Lougheed areas.

Similar to systems used by several other cities in Metro Vancouver, the ALPR units use pattern-recognition software and encrypted cellular technology to instantly determine if a vehicle should be ticketed for not paying or for parking too long.

The program is designed to help free up customer parking for businesses, keep commuters from parking in residential areas, and make better use of bylaw enforcement resources.

The new units are part of the City’s efforts to address the increased demands on parking following the opening of four new SkyTrain stations in late 2016. Other changes around the stations have included hundreds of new park-and-ride stalls, along with pay parking, 15-minute parking and 2-4-hour parking.

How ALPR works:

  • The units, which are mounted to two Bylaw Services vehicles, sweep through City streets and lots, photographing licence plates of vehicles parked in City-monitored stalls.
  • Using encrypted cellular technology, the plate number is checked against the City’s parking system on the spot to identify how long the vehicles have parked, how much they have paid, the length of permitted parking time at that location, and any violations.
  • If a violation is confirmed, a ticket will be issued on the spot and the information recorded in the City’s online systems.

Information downloaded to the system is limited to plate numbers, location, date and time.

Signs have been posted at pay stations in all areas monitored by ALPRs to alert drivers that the Automated Licence Plate Reader system collects personal information for bylaw enforcement as permitted under Section 26 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). Those receiving tickets will be informed of the source of the information and provided contact details if they have questions.

The City’s preparations for the ALPR program included hiring Rouleur Consulting this spring to conduct a privacy impact assessment, to ensure the program would meet the requirements of B.C.’s FIPPA, City policies and privacy-protection best practices.

Information collected through the program for ticketing purposes will be stored on the City’s secure server with other confidential data (backed up in Canada) for seven years. Only staff with ticketing authority will be authorized to access the information. Like all City-held confidential data, any release of the information will have to conform with FIPPA.

The data – with all personal information stripped away – will become a valuable source of planning information, for example, to identify if more parking is required in a certain area or if changes to parking rules are warranted.

Because there are only two units and more than 3,000 parking spots to monitor across the City, the traditional method of chalking tires will continue to be used, although in a much more limited way because of the efficiency of the ALPR units. The addition of the units will not cause a reduction of bylaw staff, but rather give the department the ability to better manage the increased demand within existing resources. 

The two units were supplied by Canadian company Genetec Inc., the successful bidder in a competitive tender process earlier this year. Based on results from other cities, the City anticipates the program will pay for itself or potentially generate revenue through increased ticket revenue.

The purchase of two units allowed the City to take advantage of bulk pricing, provides back-up when a unit is being serviced, and enables additional functions such as collecting anonymous traffic data for planning purposes.

For more information about the new program and parking in Coquitlam, visit


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Media contact:
Andrea McDonald
Manager, Animal Control and Bylaw Services
City of Coquitlam



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