Council can help our Veterans this week

(c) Veterans Affairs Canada

Toronto City Council is in session and there are always a flurry of Members Motions from the floor before the meeting ends.  Here’s one proposed motion that I hope some members of Council will consider and adopt as their own.

In an environment where we have all frequently criticized the federal government for its woeful treatment of many Veterans, here's a quick and easy way Toronto could make a real, tangible difference in the lives of many Veterans who live here.

Providing free parking to Veterans who hold valid Ontario-issued Veteran's Licence Number Plates on their vehicles is an easy thing to do.  It's already done in many cities in Ontario and across Canada.  Hamilton just approved a one-year pilot program to do so.  Toronto, in fact, already does this for six days each year.  It's time to extend that to the other 359.

Full disclosure: I'm a veteran myself and could, conceivably, benefit from this were it to be enacted.

 

For Councillors... here's how the motion might look.  Feel free to copy it, fill in the blanks, and introduce it at Council.


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DRAFT Notice of Motion

Lest we Forget:  Recognizing the Sacrifice of Canada’s Veterans and Giving Something Back in this Season of Remembrance 

Moved by: ___________________

Seconded by: ___________________

 

Recommendations

 

Councillor ___________________, seconded by Councillor ___________________ recommend that:

 

  1. City Council direct the City Manager and City Solicitor to work with the Toronto Parking Authority and the Toronto Police Service to enact operational procedure and Bylaw changes that would give effect to the following:
  • Permit vehicles carrying valid Ontario Veterans licence number plates to park at no cost, if parked legally, within any “pay-and-display” or mechanically metered on-street or off-street parking space managed by the city of Toronto or Toronto Parking Authority, subject to all other time-restrictions in effect for the space, except as noted below:
  • This exemption from parking fees will not apply to any vehicle parked in a gated parking lot where entry and exit is controlled by an automated barrier.
  • This exemption will not apply to any vehicle parked on private property.
  • This exemption will not apply to any vehicle parked improperly, unlawfully, or in any no-parking, no-standing or other area where parking is prohibited.
  • All other parking and stopping regulations, including on-street meter time limit regulations, shall continue to remain in force and effect.

 

Summary

Every year in November, we pause on the 11th Day to recognize the service and sacrifice of our veterans.  Veterans in Canada are too frequently forgotten and too often short-changed with regard to the benefits they receive from a society that, too commonly, fails to properly remember their service and recognize their sacrifice on the other 364 days of the year.

The often-hidden extent of their sacrifice is far greater than the compensation and benefits they receive from our nation.  The City of Toronto is in a position to help change that.  By providing free parking, where it is easy to do so, we can assist our Veterans on a daily basis and make Toronto a more welcoming and respectful city for them.

On November 9, 2003, the Honourable Harindar Takhar, then Minister of Transportation for Ontario, announced the introduction of a graphic Veteran license plate as an opportunity to recognize Veterans and show them our gratitude.

On November 5, 2004, the Honourable Albina Guarnieri, then the Minister of Veterans Affairs, declared that 2005 would be designated as the Year of the Veteran in honour of those who served this country and in recognition of the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

On July 27, 2006, the City of Toronto enacted Bylaw 625-2006 that granted exemptions for vehicles displaying a Veteran’s licence plate on certain dates.  These dates are June 6th, September 17th and November 11, on these dates vehicles displaying a Veteran’s licence plate are exempt from paying at on street pay and display machines, parking meters and Toronto Parking Authority attended pay and display lots.

Extending this exemption to all 365 days of the year is a small, affordable token of our appreciation for their service that Veterans will benefit from and appreciate every day.

 

Practices in Other cities

  • Hamilton: Recently approved a 1-yr pilot program to provide free municipal parking to vehicles displaying valid Ontario Veterans licence number plates.
  • London, ON: Holders of veteran’s license plate can park at any on-street meter without depositing coins for the limit of the mete
  • Niagara Falls: Free parking for Veteran Plate holders at meters for meter duration or 2 hours.
  • Peterborough: Veterans Parking/Transit Pass.
  • Guelph: veterans with proof of discharge papers, a “veterans permit” that permits free on-street and parking in municipal lots.  Te permits are not transferable to a spouse upon the veteran passing.
  • White Rock, BC: 4hrs a day of free parking in pay parking areas are provided for all veteran plates.  Veteran plates are not provided any privileges for time restricted 1hr or 2hr parking, etc.
  • Red Deer, AB: Veterans can buy a 5-year parking pass for $20 that allows them to park at an on-street meter for the time restriction in the area.
  • Lethbridge, AB: Persons with veteran license plates can park at parking meters without paying though they must respect the maximum time limit.
  • Regina, SK: Veterans can park at a meter if they have a valid, properly displayed Veteran Design License Plate issued by the province or the equivalent in other provinces and territories.
  • Saskatoon, SK: Veterans must live within 30 kilometres of Saskatoon and are only allowed first maximum allowable parking time.

 

Eligibility for an Ontario Veteran’s Licence Number Plate

Approximately 44,500 Veteran’s Licence Number Plates have been issued by the Province of Ontario to persons who are or have honourably:

  • Served in the Canadian Forces including Reserve Forces, the forces of the Commonwealth or its wartime allies.
  • Served in the Merchant Navy or Ferry Command during wartime.
  • Currently serving members of the Canadian Forces including Reserve Forces.
  • Peace Officers who served in a special duty area or on a special duty operation (NATO/UN).
  • Served in the Vietnam War in the forces of the United States or its allies during this war and who was a Canadian citizen at the time of such service.
  • Currently serving and retired members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.