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Airport parking gate returns

Andrew Rankin
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, January 14, 2009

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - The ongoing airport parking saga is over, for now.

Customers must now pay for parking. Throughout most of the Christmas holidays the automated gates were out of commission, offering customers a free-for-all. Airport officials finally got the system up and running again on Wednesday last week.

Ruby Landry was one of the lucky few who avoided paying a parking fee at the airport on Wednesday morning last week, when she encountered a parking gate that was out of order. Airport manager Steve Loutitt said the system was in order again by midweek. - Andrew Rankin/NNSL photo

Since the pay system was reinstalled last summer, several customers have complained about malfunctions. Last September, Yellowknifer reported one man had been trapped inside the parking lot for nearly half an hour, one hour after paying his fee.

Airport manager Steve Loutitt attributes some of those problems primarily to computer glitches and cold weather. He said they have been remedied now that the toll gates are insulated and will soon be protected by quilted coverings. A problem with the system's firewall was solved during the Christmas holidays.

Currently customers are issued tickets at the entry gate which keeps track of parking time. The ticket must be paid for and validated by a machine in the airport before being placed in the exit gate slot where it will open. Parking is free for the first hour, but customers must have their tickets validated first.

Even though all is now well at the airport, Loutitt said there are no guarantees it will stay that way.

"It's mechanical, so there could be more glitches," said Loutitt.

"We're hoping that we identified these latest ones. We're hopeful that it will be working better in the future."

Kakisa resident Ruby Landry said she made the trip to Yellowknife extra early on Wednesday to drop her daughter Rolanda off at the airport and avoid the hassle of dealing with the parking system. Her efforts paid off.

"I thought we had to come here an hour and a half early because I had to go through all this hassle," said Landry. "I found out that I didn't have to pay, so that was a huge relief."