A petition proposing changes to Vernon’s downtown parking meter system has been created after police counted 39 vandalized machines this past week.
Matt MacLaren created the petition that calls for free two-hour parking in downtown Vernon. The petition has received more than 90 signatures by Wednesday morning, March 11.
“It is felt that many businesses are suffering downtown because of the parking situation,” MacLaren’s petition reads.
MacLaren argues downtown businesses would benefit if patrons could freely park in the area.
“Having to pay for parking is a deterrent for many who want to shop downtown,” he wrote on the petition. “Why bother when all of the big box stores offer free parking?”
“If you take Anderson Way in Vernon as an example, many of the businesses are thriving, because of the amount of parking, all free for those who shop in that district of Vernon,” the petition continues.
MacLaren suggests bylaw officers could enforce the two-hour limits without having meters in place.
The City of Vernon said its staff are monitoring all areas where parking meters have been vandalized and although motorists aren’t required to pay when a machine is broken, they are required to abide by the maximum time limit posted.
Local police have had their hands full trying to keep hands out of parking meters of late.
On March 2, Vernon North Okanagan RCMP learned of 21 vandalized machines hit over the weekend and by Friday, March 6, officers were advised of another 18 meters targeted bringing the number of compromised meters up to 39.
Two men were arrested after breaking into downtown meters in February, but police say catching thieves is a challenge.
“This is a crime that can occur relatively quickly as the thief can be in and out of a meter in a matter of minutes,” RCMP media relations officer Cpl. Tania Finn said.
The city offers free parking days on Sundays and statutory holidays. Pay-by-phone services have been available in some areas since 2016.
To view or sign the petition, visit change.org.