And the parking award goes to...

CEO Dave Hill has overseen an almost complete overhaul of the Winnipeg Parking Authoritys operations. 
DAVE Hill is pretty sure Winnipeggers will never jump for joy when they return to their vehicles to find a parking ticket tucked under their windshield, but he's going to keep on trying anyway.

The chief operating officer of the Winnipeg Parking Authority (WPA) was presented with a pair of awards, including "Parking Professional of the Year," at the International Parking Institute Convention & Expo in Las Vegas earlier this month.

"I'm very flattered. It's the Academy Award of parking," he said.

Hill has overseen an almost complete overhaul of the WPA's operations since it was created in 2003. Parking meters have been largely replaced with credit card-friendly pay stations, garages have been upgraded to national standards (complete with white walls and better lighting to provide a safer environment), and additional services have been made available to patrons, too. Chief among them is a car wash at the Millennium Library parkade, where you can have your car buffed while you work, read or shop. If you're particular about such things, you can do it yourself.

"It's an amenity for customers. They're down there with their cars anyway. Car washes aren't something we invented, they're available around North America. There's a lot of human activity in our parking garages. They're not dark and dingy," he said.

Requiring agents to take a picture every time they hand out a ticket ensures drivers can be shown the circumstances surrounding their offence and hopefully reduce the chances of it happening again, Hill said.

"Our hope is people don't get burned at all. If they make a mistake, (our system will help them) understand the cause and correct it. Seventy-five per cent of people who get a parking ticket never ever get another one. That's not the colloquial thinking, but it's true. Of the total body of people who get parking tickets, five per cent get them repeatedly," he said.

Hill, who is also featured on the cover of The Parking Professional Magazine this month, wasn't the only Winnipeg winner. WPA's Nicole Harris was presented an honourable mention for parking staff members of the year for her depth of knowledge of new technologies in parking and the WPA also won an honourable mention for parking program of the year.

Shawn Conrad, Virginia-based executive director of the IPI, said Winnipeg "hit the jackpot" at this year's event.

"This was really unusual that one municipality would win so many awards," he said.

Conrad said garnering an honourable mention is just as good as winning an award because the IPI has to compare the operators of very different parking systems, such as municipalities, hospitals, universities and airports.

Conrad said the Winnipeg Parking Authority was recognized for "changing the culture of parking" in the city.

"I know our committee was really impressed with the technology and innovation that Winnipeg has incorporated, including solar-powered stations and different payment options (at pay stations). A lot of people don't like to carry coins or cash and being able to swipe a credit card is so much more convenient. We're trying to move beyond the days of people running out to put a dime in the parking meter," he said.

Hill said the entire parking process isn't centred on issuing tickets, as many people may believe, but it's about finding a parking spot and then parking your vehicle courteously.

"The way people move around downtown and visit downtown is working far better than it was in the past and that's a good thing for Winnipeg. We can have more activity going on downtown and we haven't really done much to change the supply of parking spots. We haven't built 100 garages or anything. We're running the system much more efficiently," he said.
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