Council committee to debate free parking for vet plates


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Military veterans might be able to park for free on downtown Winnipeg streets.

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Military veterans might be able to park for free on downtown Winnipeg streets.

Council’s public works committee will be discussing a motion that would allow vehicles (including motorcycles and mopeds) with a Manitoba Public Insurance veteran licence plate to park for free on streets with city payment stations, including near hospitals.

“It would help absolutely,” Ronn Anderson, a past-president of the Royal Canadian Legion’s Manitoba and Northwest Ontario Command, said Monday.

“That would be wonderful. It would help people who go to St. Boniface and the (Health Sciences Centre). It would be a good thank you to the veterans for their service.”

A spokeswoman for the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada said they support the measure, as well.

“The veterans will appreciate having the benefits of free parking year-round at hospital parking meters and other locations,” she said.

The motion was one of the last put forward by former Transcona city councillor Shawn Nason before he lost the civic election in October.

“I presented the ask, and I think the veterans deserve this kind of attention,” Nason said Monday. “If I was still in office, I would be pushing for it.

“If we’re trying to get people downtown, this would help. Why not encourage them by giving them this? I think it is warranted. If they’ve got the veteran licence plate, they should get this.”

About 1,500 veteran licence plates have been issued in Winnipeg.

The city currently has a veterans scratch-and-park coupon book, which provides the ability to park for free on streets for up to 20 hours a year. Each book has 10 two-hour parking vouchers.

Public works chairwoman Coun. Janice Lukes said it will be up to the committee to decide whether or not to approve the free parking motion.

A city report recommends making no changes to the current parking charges.

Only Vancouver (which recently approved the move) offers free year-round parking for veterans, while some other Canadian cities, including Halifax, Regina and Edmonton, offer no free parking for veterans, Lukes said.

“The public service’s recommendation indicates we are doing quite a bit already,” she said. “We always have to find a balance. The committee will listen to what is being said. We’ll see what happens.”

To qualify for a Manitoba Public Insurance veteran licence plate, the applicant has to have served in either the Canadian Armed Forces, an allied force or the merchant navy or ferry command during the Second World War or Korean War.

People who have served in the Canadian Forces for at least three years, been involved in NATO operations or a United Nations peacekeeping force as a member of the Canadian Forces, RCMP, another Canadian police force or an allied force are also eligible.

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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