Drivers will receive free parking on Main Street and a portion of Third Avenue on Nov. 1 for Yukoner Appreciation Day. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

City approves free parking for Yukoner Appreciation Day

Retailers ready for one of the biggest local shopping days of the year

Those heading to Yukoner Appreciation Day Nov. 1 will get free parking if they’re on Main Street and a portion of Third Avenue.

Whitehorse city council approved a request from the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce to provide free parking by not enforcing paid parking on Main Street as well as Third Avenue between Steele and Elliott Streets.

Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce chair Mike Pemberton told Whitehorse city council in a presentation before the Oct. 28 vote, the day represents one of the biggest local shopping events of the year and serves as the chambers’ largest “buy local” initiative.

He estimated there were close to 2,500 shoppers last year during Yukoner Appreciation Day. That figure, he said, was based on what business owners told the chamber and the number of shopping passports that were stamped.

Under the passport program, customers collect stamps from each store they visit. Passports are then entered into a draw for prizes.

Local shops offer deals and promotions as the seasonal shopping season gets underway with the chamber having the passport program where shoppers can win prizes based on the number of stamps they receive at local businesses.

“Buying local stimulates our economy,” Pemberton said, going on to site the impact local purchases have throughout the community.

Yukoner Appreciation Day has grown substantially through the years increasing from 35 participating businesses in 2015 to 63 in 2019.

“We believe we have a positive partnership with the city,” Pemberton said.

He clarified the chamber was seeking free parking on Main Street as well as Third Avenue between Steele and Elliott Streets, rather than Main, Steele and Elliott as had originally been posed to council.

Given that change, he estimated $5,300 in lost revenue to the city by not enforcing the meters.

In the past the city has provided free parking on Main Street for the day with some of Third Avenue closed down to accommodate an event tent the chamber had set up to provide entertainment and giveaways.

This year, the chamber is hosting those events inside the Old Firehall.

Pemberton pointed out in many other regions the downtown cores of communities are suffering. That’s not the case in Whitehorse and events like Yukoner Appreciation Day contribute to the vibrancy of the area.

“We are fortunate to have a vibrant, strong downtown core,” Pemberton said.

As Mayor Dan Curtis reiterated during discussion about it: “If you don’t have a vibrant downtown you have a dying downtown.”

Council members all approved the idea

City staff also confirmed the parks department will be working to accommodate the chamber’s request for festive lights to be lit up along Main Street.

Curtis made it clear this would be limited to Main Street for Yukoner Appreciation Day only.

The city will not be turning on its city-wide Christmas lights until after Remembrance Day, he said.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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