Transit and parking meter fees in Whitehorse are being waived until at least April 13.
The City of Whitehorse announced the changes March 21 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The territory’s first two cases of COVID-19 were announced March 22.
In a statement, the city encouraged transit passengers to board buses through the rear doors if they are able to in respect of social distancing measures. Those who require a ramp or other accessible features can continue to board through the front.
“We’ve already increased sanitizing efforts and implemented social distancing measures on our buses through the use of signs,” the statement said.
While parking meter fines are being waived, other offences for parking in no parking zones, such as accessible parking spots, in front of yellow curbs and such, continue to apply.
The city would typically see about $37,362 in revenue from parking meters — in both fines being paid and coins in the meter — in a typical three-week period. It is anticipated with the significant downturn in parking though, revenue will be a lot less.
An estimate on the revenue from transit fees was not available at press time, though city spokesperson Myles Dolphin noted the figure fluctuates depending on ridership. Ridership has been fluctuating a lot in recent days, he said.
“The intention (in waiving transit and parking meter fees) is to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 through surface contacts and person-to-person interactions at City Hall,” the city’s statement said, adding the city continues to follow the recommendations of the territory’s chief medical officer of health.
The changes will be re-evaluated on April 13.
Unlike other jurisdictions, Whitehorse does not have any plans to declare a state of emergency at this point, according to Dolphin. Dolphin said while it could under Yukon government legislation, the declaration would be in place for a maximum of 48 hours at which time it would elapse or could be replaced by a Yukon government declaration.
“For the time being, the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s declaration of a health emergency provides sufficient authorities that affect all of Yukon,” he stated in an email.
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