Free parking for those over 80 finds support

Kind gesture...Gore resident Malcolm Boote will not have to pay for metered parking in Gore for much longer if a Gore District Council community strategy committee recommendation to provide free parking for those over 80-years-old finds approval at a full council meeting. PHOTO:SANDY EGGLESTON

A plan for those over 80 to enjoy free parking in Gore has made it through its first road block.

The proposal was discussed at the Gore District Council’s community strategy committee meeting on Wednesday and councillors passed a recommendation that the council support free metered parking for those 80 and older.

The decision will need to be ratified at a full council meeting.

A memo outlining the proposal was prepared and tabled at the meeting by Ready for Living co-ordinator Kylie Aitken and senior regulatory officer Frances Shepherd.

The memo stated that Gore district residents aged 80 years or older who held a valid driver’s licence and drove their own vehicle could park free in metered parking spaces.

Residents who were eligible would be issued with a parking sticker which could be attached to the front windscreen of their vehicle.

“Providing free parking at metered spaces is aimed at enabling older members of our community to come into town to utilise and enjoy the facilities available in our [central business district] and encourage more social interaction,” the memo said.

The Invercargill, Timaru and Dunedin City Councils also offered free parking for elderly drivers.

NZ Transport Agency data showed 481 people in the district were over 80 and held a driver’s licence. That would be the maximum number of permits that could be issued.

Cr Bronwyn Reid said it was a marvellous initiative.

“I look forward to using it myself in days, years, to come.”

Mayor Tracy Hicks said he supported the idea.

“It’s a no-brainer for me.

“It makes sense with who we are and the demographics of our particular community.”

Gore was one of a small number of towns in New Zealand that had been certified age-friendly by the World Health Organisation, so it made sense to offer the free parking, he said.

After the meeting, Gore man Malcolm Boote (87) said he thought it was a good idea for people his age not to have to pay parking fees.

“It’s a gesture of looking after the elderly.

“It follows the logic of care.”