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Free 2-hour core-area parking in London, Ont., extended to end of year

A parking meter in downtown London, Ont., June 14, 2017.
A parking meter in downtown London, Ont., June 14, 2017. Matthew Trevithick/980 CFPL

A free parking pilot project launched in July and extended to September has been once again extended, this time to the end of the year.

The City of London announced Wednesday that free two-hour municipal parking in London’s core will last the rest of 2020.

Read more: London, Ont., extends free 2-hour core-area parking until Sept. 30

Motorists are eligible to receive two hours of free parking every day at city-owned parking lots and on-street parking meters in the downtown and Old East Village by using the code ‘B2B20’ on HonkMobile. Since the pilot launched in July, free parking has been accessed over 7,100 times.

The initiative is part of ongoing efforts to support local businesses impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic, the city said in a release.

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“The businesses in London’s core have shown great responsibility in following all health precautions to keep customers safe and make them feel a sense of comfort as they shop,” says Mayor Ed Holder.

“Shopping local is an important way to show your support for the businesses and for our economy. Free parking makes it even easier to do that.”

Read more: London, Ont., businesses issue plea for local support amid pandemic

Jim Yanchula, manager of downtown projects and business relations, says the city has been in talks with local businesses about their needs throughout the pandemic. The free parking is part of measures from the city’s Back to Business, or B2B, action team.

The city says it has also assisted with requests for space allowances for curbside pickup and sidewalk queuing, as well as temporary extended outdoor patio spaces.

“We are continuing to work closely with the business improvement associations to stay in step with them and understand their needs as the circumstances with COVID-19 continue to evolve into the fall.”

Some business owners in the city gathered at Toboggan Brewing Co. last Wednesday to share the struggles they’ve faced amid the COVID-19 pandemic and issue a plea for local support.

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Reduced capacity, difficulty attracting new customers and increased labour costs were among the issues cited at the news conference, which involved owners from a number of industries including restaurants, retail and optometry.

Click to play video 'Small businesses need new rent relief program as existing program comes to an end: CFIB' Small businesses need new rent relief program as existing program comes to an end: CFIB
Small businesses need new rent relief program as existing program comes to an end: CFIB

— with files from Global News’ Andrew Graham.