Cash-handling machines being upgraded to handle new $10 Viola Desmond bills

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Hundreds of thousands of cash-handling machines across the country have had to be upgraded to handle Canada’s distinctive new $10 bill, featuring a vertical portrait of Nova Scotia civil rights advocate Viola Desmond, while some others still awaiting changes are rejecting the distinctive banknotes.

Ensuring vending and other machines can read the new polymer note requires a software upgrade for each device.

Spencer Baxter, owner of Value Vending Services in Nova Scotia, said his 125 devices simply won’t accept the new bills. Upgrading them all, which he has not yet had a chance to do, costs about $10 each, excluding driving and labour time to get to the machines at various locations.

« It’s time and money, » Baxter said from Halifax. « Each time they change them, we need to upgrade. »

Since their introduction in mid-November, the Bank of Canada has made 19.6 million of the new notes available to financial institutions and almost 16.9 million of those are now considered to be in circulation. By contrast, a total of 158 million $10 notes were in circulation at the end of November, the central bank said.

‘It’s not a huge deal’

« With about half a million cash-handling machines of various types in use across Canada, it stands to reason that they won’t all accept this note from the day it begins to circulate, » said Rebecca Spence, a spokeswoman for the Bank of Canada. « In that case, the bank’s advice is: If a $10 note featuring Viola Desmond is not accepted by a cash-handling machine, try using the previous regular circulating note instead. »

Metrolinx, the Toronto area’s regional transit agency, said it knew the new bills would be an issue for its Presto and other machines used for purchasing rides on buses, subways and commuter trains.

Most devices have already been reprogrammed, said Anne Marie Aikins, senior media manager with the transit agency. The upgrades, she said, are simply the cost of doing business in an increasingly automated society.

« The beautiful $10 bill is vertical in its image, which has thrown off vending machines, » she said. « We have to make sure they’re all updated. It’s not a huge deal. It’s just a matter of getting to them. »

A sample of the new $10 Canadian bill, featuring civil rights icon Viola Desmond, is seen in this undated handout image from the Bank of Canada. Hundreds of thousands of cash-handling machines across the country have had to be upgraded to handle Canada’s distinctive new $10 bill, featuring a vertical portrait of Nova Scotia women’s rights activist Viola Desmond, while some others still awaiting changes are rejecting the distinctive banknotes. (Bank of Canada/Canadian Press)

The new bill, with its suite of security features, appears to have provoked less of an outcry than the introduction in 2011 of the polymer notes that replaced the old cotton-paper banknotes, or the lighter loonies and toonies produced by the mint in 2012. In those cases, some vending-machine operators complained they were ill prepared for the change and were forced to mollify unhappy customers and spend time and money fixing machines that refused to recognize the new currency.

‘New software required’

The Bank of Canada said it had been working with financial institutions and equipment manufacturers to minimize the impact of the new $10 bill on the cash-handling industry. The note, the bank said, keeps the machine-readable features of Canada’s other polymer notes and is printed on the same material.

The bank also said it provided test notes in advance to equipment manufacturers to help ensure machine readiness.

In addition, with the gradual roll-out, relatively few of the bills have so far made their way into public wallets and purses and then into machines. That has helped create breathing room for owners and operators to reprogram their devices.

« People, like me, I got my first one and I’m keeping it, » said Aikins. « By the time [the bill] gets broadly into circulation, the fix will be in. »

Chris Stegehuis, president of the Canadian Automatic Merchandising Association, said the introduction of the Viola Desmond bill appears to have gone more smoothly than some earlier changes.

« There was new software required for our bill validators, as is expected with any coinage or bill change, » Stegehuis said. « No problem with it at all. »

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You’ve got mail: Canada Post to handle weed deliveries in Ontario

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The GTA location of the giant distribution centre that will feed the province all of its legal pot products come Wednesday is being kept a dark secret.

While details of the centre’s size and address are being withheld for security reasons, its Ontario Cannabis Store owner has revealed several key aspects of it’s new online service — which will be the sole source of legal pot in the province as of 12:01 a.m. Oct. 17.

The location of the Ontario Cannabis Store’s distribution centre is being kept secret for security reasons. The centre, located in the GTA, will handle all of the OCS's distribution of cannabis products across the province come Oct. 17.
The location of the Ontario Cannabis Store’s distribution centre is being kept secret for security reasons. The centre, located in the GTA, will handle all of the OCS’s distribution of cannabis products across the province come Oct. 17.  (SUPPLIED BY ONTARIO CANNABIS STORE)

During a briefing introducing the ocs.ca website to reporters Thursday, store officials said delivery fees on its cannabis orders would be a flat $5 anywhere in the province.

Those deliveries, conducted by Canada Post personnel, would be made between one to three days from the time of ordering, officials said.

Read more:

Pot plans may have ‘unforeseen’ consequences for youth, boards of health say

U.S. border ban on Canadian cannabis workers lifted

Some companies instituting restrictive marijuana policies

And though you’ll be asked to state you’re a legal 19-years-old several times on the site while ordering, it will be those Canada Post carriers who will ultimately determine if you’re of age to receive pot packages on your doorstep.

Anyone who can prove they are 19 or older can sign for a package at any address the order indicates — including work places. But as with alcohol or medical marijuana deliveries, ID will be demanded from anyone who looks 25 or younger.

A worker examines cannabis products at the Ontario Cannabis Store distribution centre ahead of the Oct. 17 legalization date.
A worker examines cannabis products at the Ontario Cannabis Store distribution centre ahead of the Oct. 17 legalization date.  (SUPPLIED BY ONTARIO CANNABIS STORE)

Postal carriers will not be allowed to drop off the plainly-packages good — which could include cannabis flowers, pre-rolled joints, oils and oil capsules to begin with — with condo concierges or apartment doormen.

And when no one is home to receive packages, a slip will be left guiding purchasers to their closest post office for pickup.

(Cannabis seeds — which site goers can use to grow their four plants per-household limit — will be on sale in the near future, officials said.)

The site’s search function — designed by online retail giant Shopify — will select products largely on levels of the active cannabis components, the intoxicating tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the medicinal cannabidiol (CBD) that buyers desire.

Those levels can be plotted on a sliding scroll function, which will guide purchasers to appropriate products from the 32 licensed producers the OCS has so far selected to supply the online store.

There will also be a slew of cannabis accoutrements on sale including pipes, rolling papers, vaporizers and grinders.

Pot buyers will be able to use VISA or Mastercard to order on the 17th, but the OCS is in negotiations with other payment platforms as well.

The OCS has yet to determine prices, but they will be set to be competitive with those on the illicit market and will include all taxes.

Buyers can purchase a limit of 30 grams of product at a time and the site will keep track of amounts as you add orders to your cart.

Nothing, however, will stop a buyer from making several orders a day, beyond a federal regulation that limits personal possession to 30 grams.

Cannabis orders will be sent out in plain packaging and delivered by Canada Post.
Cannabis orders will be sent out in plain packaging and delivered by Canada Post.  (SUPPLIED BY ONTARIO CANNABIS STORE)

The shopping site will also include an educational element that can tell users about such things as active cannabis components and the way they can interact with the body.

This educational material is already available on the store’s ocslearn.ca site.

Matei Olaru, CEO of the Toronto-based Lift & Co., which offers an online guide Canadian cannabis buyers can access, said Shopify and the OCS have integrated some useful tools on their site, such as the THC and CBD sliding scale filter.

“But it’s clear the OCS is still limited in how they can communicate specifically about products and their effects,” Olaru said. “In the absence of that kind of online resource or brick-and-mortar stores, ‘Trip Adviser’ resources like Lift & Co. will continue to fill the information gap between producers and consumers.”

Joseph Hall is a Toronto-based reporter covering cannabis. Reach him on email: gjhall@thestar.ca

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