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Saskatoon council must decide on free parking for veterans of Afghanistan war

Old parking meters in a storage room at Ecole Nationale d'Horlogerie in Trois Rivieres, Quebec, October 30, 2012.

Christinne Muschi/The Globe and Mail

Saskatoon city council will have opposing recommendations to consider when it reviews whether veterans from the Afghanistan war should be allowed free parking.

A report to the city's finance committee says they should not be included in a program that was intended for a limited time when it was announced in 2005 for the Year of the Veteran.

"This is simply a parking program. It by no means is intended to discriminate or favour certain veterans over others," said transportation director Angela Gardiner, who presented the report to the finance committee Monday.

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However, Gardiner says the finance committee believes Afghanistan veterans should be included.

"They essentially did not take the administration's recommendation, but they created their own to expand the program to include Afghanistan veterans," she said.

Both recommendations are to go to city council for review next Monday.

The program currently covers soldiers who served in the First or Second World wars, the Korean War or on NATO or UN peacekeeping missions. The report says there were 440 qualified applicants within the first year of the veteran parking program and an additional 86 permits have since been issued.

Council got a letter from Lt.-Col. Tony Engelberts in February 2013 asking that Afghanistan vets be included, saying they have served proudly alongside veterans of other conflicts.

Including the Afghanistan veterans would add about 100 additional permits.

The free parking offer costs the city about $32,000 a year, and adding the Afghanistan veterans would increase that by $8,000.

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