Gift of parking and transit given to shoppers

Parking will be free for Saturday Christmas shoppers in downtown Vernon.

Parking will be free for Saturday Christmas shoppers in downtown Vernon.

Council unanimously passed a request from the Downtown Vernon Association for free parking and free bus transit during the annual Festival of Christmas Traditions on Friday, Nov. 25, and for free parking on the five Saturdays before Christmas, Nov. 26, Dec. 3, Dec. 10, Dec. 17 and Dec. 24.

“I’m for it because it will promote travel by bus during that busy holiday season and give people a taste of transit travel,” said Coun. Shawn Lee.

The request was originally brought to council by the DVA in September, but council deferred the matter so that staff could check on the cost summary of the request.

In a memo to council, finance manager Kevin Bertles estimated that free parking and free transit on the specific dates would cost the city nearly $11,600.

Bertles estimates that free parking and free transit on Nov. 25 would cost $2,519 while the five days of free parking Saturdays would cost the city just under $9,100.

“I wanted to make sure we always understand what income we’re forgoing on those kinds of things, and it wasn’t brought forward in the original presentation,” said Lee. “I don’t want to have the feeling that council just rubber stamps these annual requests. I always want to have it in front of the public and on the record.”