Free parking gets approval

Part of Vernon's 30th Avenue will have free parking leading up to the Friday market

Parts of Vernon’s main street will feature free parking on Fridays during the summer.

City council has agreed to provide free parking between noon and 3 p.m. in the block of 30th Avenue hosting the Avenue Market Fridays from June 12 to Sept. 18.

“We want to create a positive destination downtown,” said Lara Konkin, with the Downtown Vernon Association, which made the request to the city.

The DVA must put hoods on the meters two hours before a portion of 30th Avenue is closed at 3 p.m. so motorists have the allocated time permitted by the meters. However, the early placement of the hoods has led some motorists to believe parking is restricted immediately and they don’t stop to shop.

“It was seen as a negative,” said Konkin.

The hope is that by having free parking in the block hosting the market that Friday night, motorists will continue to shop up until the road being closed at 3 p.m.

Support for the DVA’s request came from a majority of council.

“This can reduce some of the friction over parking,” said Coun. Scott Anderson.

Opposition came from Mayor Akbal Mund and Councillors Juliette Cunningham and Bob Spiers, who wanted free parking to start at 1 p.m. and not noon.

“Opening it up for three hours could lead to free meter hogging,” said Cunningham, who owns a business on 30th Avenue.

The DVA estimates the city could lose up to $4,000 in parking revenue over the 15 weeks and that is an issue for city staff.

“Each hour there is a revenue loss. Administration is concerned about bottom-line revenue,” said Will Pearce, chief administrative officer.