Vancouver city staffers were asked to consider free parking for veterans. Here's why they're advising against it.
VANCOUVER -- The idea of giving veterans free parking in the City of Vancouver is a small way to say thank you.
A year ago, city council asked staff to look at ways to make it happen.
But now, city staffers are recommending the exact opposite, and one of the reasons may come as a surprise.
One of the supporters of the initial plan is Reid Lewis, a life member of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 179.
He said he felt lucky when he was able to find a free parking spot outside the legion on Commercial Drive.
"It's $2 an hour to park," he told CTV News Monday.
And that hourly rate can add up quickly, so not having to pay would go a long way for local vets.
"I think the veterans earned that right, for at least a little bit of free parking," Reid said.
Vancouver city councillors voted unanimously last year to explore the idea of allowing veterans to park for free all year.
It's already done in the Metro Vancouver cities of Coquitlam, New Westminster, Port Moody, Surrey and White Rock.
But in Vancouver, veterans can only park for free in the week leading up to Remembrance Day.
Coun. Melissa De Genova spearheaded the motion for year-round free parking.
"It certainly doesn't measure up to what our veterans have done for us, but it's a very small way for us here in the City of Vancouver to say thank you to our veterans," she said.
De Genova told CTV she was surprised when staff recommended against it.
Staffers even recommended ending the free parking policy around Remembrance Day.
The staff report said the financial impact would be significant – about $2 million a year – and that free parking would run against the city's climate change and transportation policies.
"(Free parking) does not support veterans who travel in other ways, such as by transit, walking or cycling," a comment from the city's manager read, in part.
"Veterans are not, in general, a low-income or disadvantaged group."
Lewis said his first thought on the staff report was an expletive.
"It's B.S.," the veteran said.
"They're not giving us much (by offering free parking)… It's convenience, respect. I don't think the veterans are getting it."
The report goes back to council on Thursday.
With a report from CTV News Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim