Sunday parking won’t cover youth bus passes, Victoria council told

Sunday parking alone will not generate enough cash to cover the cost of bus passes for city youth, Victoria councillors have been told.

“I can share right now that the original [cost] numbers [of providing bus passes] are around $850,000. The revenue generated from the parking fees will not come to $850,000, so there is a gap already,” Susanne Thompson, city director of finance, told councillors this week.

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“But that might be mitigated by the fact that some of the kids may be too young to actually take the bus — I’m talking kindergartners now and perhaps the Grade 1s.”

The Victoria Regional Transit Commission agreed this month to charge the city $135 for each annual youth pass, or about $850,000 a year.

When councillors originally discussed implementing pay street parking on Sundays, staff estimated new revenue from Sunday parking at about $500,000 annually. Sunday pay parking started in May.

Coun. Ben Isitt said it’s time for the city to “pivot” from the idea of tying free youth bus passes to parking revenue.

“Originally this was tied to the idea of parking and that’s a valuable revenue stream that the city is now capturing, but I think we want to sort of land on the issue that this is good policy,” Isitt said.

“I think if we can start to unhinge this from the idea of revenues from Sunday parking or even parking revenues and that essentially each year until the transit commission decides to bring this in, there will have to be an allocation from general city revenues toward the cost of providing this age-based social program,” he said.

The comments came as councillors moved to ensure no youth is left behind when the city’s new bus pass program for youths begins in September.

Councillors endorsed a resolution brought forward by councillors Sharmarke Dubow and Jeremy Loveday directing staff to develop a mechanism so that all youths under the age of 19, including those who are not enrolled in any school program or might be in an alternative school program, have access to a free bus pass.

“I think it’s really important that we don’t miss potentially the most marginalized people in the community, even thinking about street-involved young people,” Isitt said. “I think in terms of the financial impact to the city it would be quite small.”

“We know that inequality is increasing rapidly in our community and the only way to tackle that is access to housing but also access to transportation,” Dubow said.

“This motion is addressing the youth who face high risk of homelessness in our community.”

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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