It’s the season of giving, and the city is doing its part to make sure Whitehorse drivers aren’t left out.
For two weeks starting November 28, the fines collected from parking tickets will be donated to the Food Bank Society of Whitehorse and Kaushee’s Place.
“It’s just a positive thing for the community from something that is typically negative,” said Dave Pruden, the manager of bylaw services.
It’s also a morale booster for the bylaw officers, he said.
“It allows the meter attendants to have a little bit more positive interaction for a couple weeks, and feel like they’re giving something other than just tickets,” said Pruden.
Cash donations from the promotion are capped at $6,000, but people can also pay their fines by dropping off the equivalent in non-perishable food at city hall.
This is the city’s fourth year running the Foods for Fines promotion.
Last year more than $8,000 in food and cash was donated to the two charities.
“It does really well from a food perspective,” said Stephen Dunbar-Edge, the executive director of the Food Bank Society of Whitehorse. “The cash we need as well, because we have to buy a good percentage of our food.”
The campaign also helps raise awareness, he said.
“I was really pleased with the number of people who came in saying, ‘Well I didn’t get a parking ticket but here’s some food,’” said Dunbar-Edge.
Last year more than 800,000 people across the country went to a food bank.
While that is down slightly from the year before, it’s still almost 30 per cent higher than is was before the 2008 recession hit.
And Whitehorse is no exception.
“When we first opened the food bank based on the numbers from Mary House and the Salvation Army we predicted that we would have about 150 clients a month,” said Dunbar-Edge. “We’re in excess of triple that now.”
This year the food bank served about 525 people a month, up from 450 last year.
While demand is still “really high,” this time of year donations are slow coming in, said Dunbar-Edge.
“We’re expecting it to pick up in December, but the shelves are quite bare,” he said. “The last food drive we had was in October by the Catholic schools and really that food was used up in six weeks.”
Not only is the food bank running low on food, it’s low on cash, as well.
This means the food bank won’t be doing separate Christmas hampers this year.
“The money’s just not there,” said Dunbar-Edge.
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