KELOWNA - Earlier this month, city councillors removed perhaps the last free parking spots in the downtown core — the City Hall parking lot itself.
What remains unchanged, however, is that mayor and councillors themselves will continue to enjoy free parking in that prime lot 24/7.
Parking has long been a issue in Kelowna's downtown core, at least before major additions opened to the public this summer. With the new Memorial Parkade and expansion of the Library Parkade, the city has increased its surface parking offerings and now has roughly 2,500 public parking stalls, the majority of them downtown.
The most recent changes tinkered with event parking rates and added public pay parking to the prime City Hall lot which, other than a handful of reserved spots, was first come first served after 6 p.m. Monday to Friday. Beginning Nov. 1, if you want to park there, it will cost $1 per hour or $6 per day.
But mayor and councillors still won’t have to worry about where they park.
Human resources director Stu Leatherdale confirmed council’s parking perk is one hold over from a major change a few years ago. City staff used to get deeply discounted rates in the 89-stall hall lot.
The city parks some of its fleet vehicles in the surrounding parkades but the majority of employees must make their own way to work and arrange their own parking.
“This would have been a better story a few years ago. Now they pay the same as everyone else for long term parking in one of the parkades,” he adds, currently $73.78 a month.
Negative publicity — and the fact the city itself is supposed to be a strong booster of alternative transportation — ended the staff subsidy.
However, demand still exceeds supply and Leatherdale says all other staff are assigned a coveted hall stall through an internal lottery.
It’s not the only perk for politicians. Kelowna’s mayors have been supplied with a vehicle since at least 1994. Mayor Colin Basran drives a Nissan Murano for which the city covers the $582 monthly lease plus gas and insurance, Leatherdale says.
A portion of the lot will continue to be free during the day for residents doing business at City Hall and they won't be ticketed so long as they register their licence plate number.
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