Advertisement

Vancouver approves year-round free parking for veterans over city staff objections

Click to play video 'Veterans will be granted free parking year round in Vancouver' Veterans will be granted free parking year round in Vancouver
WATCH: Veterans will be granted free parking year round in Vancouver – Oct 22, 2020

Vancouver city council has voted unanimously to move ahead with a year-round free parking program for veterans, over the objections of city staff.

Council had told staff last November to come up with a plan that would allow veterans’ licence plate holders to park for free on city property in time for Remembrance Day 2020.

Staff, instead, returned a report recommending that the city not offer the year-round parking, and in fact, cut back on the existing parking perks for veterans.

Read more: ‘Bloody nonsense’: Vancouver staff recommend no free year-round parking for veterans

“When I first heard I was absolutely enraged and extremely disappointed, and I did term the information they did present as absolute bloody nonsense,” retired Lt.-Col. Archie Steacy told Global News.

Story continues below advertisement

Steacy is the president of the B.C. Veterans Commemorative Association and spearheaded the creation of veterans plates in B.C.

While the city staff report argued that there are about 12,000 people with veterans status in the City of Vancouver, Steacy said current ICBC data shows just 353 of them hold veterans plates.

Click to play video 'City of Vancouver recommends against free year round parking for veterans' City of Vancouver recommends against free year round parking for veterans
City of Vancouver recommends against free year round parking for veterans – Oct 17, 2020

He said staff’s suggestion that the free parking program could cost the city $2 million per year in lost revenue was “ridiculous.”

“I guess they have a point that they wanted to make, that they wanted to continue to increase the money to the city from parking, but that’s not the way to do it,” Steacy said.

“(Not) on the backs of veterans who have given so much of their time and their lives in their service.”

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: Vancouver moves ahead with pay hikes for city managers amid pandemic

Paul Storer, director of transportation for the city, said city staff respect the contributions of veterans and never meant to insult anyone.

Click to play video 'Global News exclusive: Vancouver city managers receive raises during pandemic' Global News exclusive: Vancouver city managers receive raises during pandemic
Global News exclusive: Vancouver city managers receive raises during pandemic – Oct 17, 2020

Staff returned the recommendation based on “technical concerns” because pay parking is the city’s main tool to manage parking supply in high-demand areas, he said.

“When we looked at providing free parking for a substantial group of people, our concern was about impacting that ability to serve residents and businesses,” Storer said.

Read more: Vancouver council backs proposal for free, year-round veterans’ parking

“We looked at if we were to provide free parking for veterans what that would look like. Currently there are 5,000 plates in Metro Vancouver,” he added, suggesting offering free parking could incentivize more people to get the plates.

Story continues below advertisement

Staff will now review bylaws for needed changes to implement the free parking plan, which Storer said could be implemented by Nov. 4.

The free veterans parking will then operate on a pilot basis for one year.

— With files from Jordan Armstrong