Free two-hour car parking in three of Warrnambool's off-street sites will be extended until June 30 with a promise of an impending permanent solution to the vexed issue.
Three councillors declared an interest and couldn't vote on the decision to keep the first two hours of parking - between 9am and 11am - in Parkers, Crammond and Dickson and Ozone car parks free until the end of the financial year.
The remaining four councillors - Mayor Vicki Jellie, Richard Ziegeler, Otha Akoch and Ben Blain - voted to extend the free parking - a decision that will cost about $5000 a month in lost council revenue.
Cr Blain said the council needed to "get moving" on the parking issue in the CBD and he hoped that what they came up with was a "game-changer".
He said the extension was the second new councillors had given to the free parking measures put in place by their predecessors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parking was made free city-wide in March last year when the pandemic first hit but was then brought back in mid-year after businesses complained that workers were taking up the spaces meant to attract shoppers.
The former councillors came up with the idea to have two-hour free parking in the three off-street car parks - a measure implemented from July until the end of January.
The new council extended it again in January and have now extended it for a second time.
Cr Blain said by the end of the extension period, the councillors would be six months into looking at the car parking issue across the city and it should have something permanent in place by the end of the financial year.
"As council we really need to get moving to make this happen for the traders in the CBD," he said.
"These are temporary parking measures.
"We need to be supporting our traders.
"We need a permanent solution to give traders confidence to continue trading in our CBD.
"I hope the free parking - whatever form it takes - will be a game changer for the CBD and will show traders that council is behind them."
He said a deadline of June 30 should give council "ample time" to have a plan together.
Cr Jellie said the council's directors were in the process of coming back to councillors with more information, and by June 30 councillors should have a strategy and a decision made.
Cr Ziegeler said parking was probably something they had all talked about in their election campaigns
He said this was "just the next step" before councillors would review the whole car parking issue in the future.
"It must be noted that there is a degree of openness and accountability and balance that has to be reached because if we reduce the fees on parking it's income we don't get," Cr Ziegeler said.
"It doesn't mean it costs something, it means there's money not coming in that would have come in before and it needs to be looked at in that fashion.
"There is a balance to be reached.
"I'm really keen for council to pursue this issue and see if we can't do something good, not only for the CBD and the traders but for the people of Warrnambool."
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