Parking ticket amnesty raises $2,450 

Money will go to buy staples for Whistler Food Bank during busy time of year

Brian Gavan was one of 100 people who paid off their outstanding parking tickets this month, thanks to the Resort Municipality of Whistler's amnesty program.

The Whistler resident, who had accumulated $390 in outstanding tickets over several years, said he was propelled to wipe his slate clean when he heard about the municipality's temporary offer to allow people to pay half their ticket values.

And, while he was at it, he also decided to pay off the $360 of unpaid tickets that his company owed.

"I called that morning to find out where I was with parking tickets and was told that it was the last day for the half-price (offer)," said Gavan.

"That is what spurred me going in there. I am just one of those people who puts things off, so when I heard it was the last day, obviously I rushed in there and paid them."

On Nov. 19, the Resort Municipality of Whistler launched their amnesty ticket program, with $5 from every paid off ticket going towards the Whistler Food Bank.

The program was originally scheduled to run until Dec. 3, but its success in luring people to municipal hall with unpaid tickets prompted the municipality to extend it until Thursday, Dec. 17.

"It is now finished, and we are very happy with the results," commented Sandra Smith, supervisor of bylaw services for the municipality, in an e-mail to Pique Newsmagazine this week.

She added that the Resort Municipality of Whistler donated $2,450 to the Whistler Food Bank through the program.

Greg McDonnell, executive director of Whistler Community Services Society, was excited to hear how much money the municipality raised for the food bank, which is run by the Whistler Community Services Society.

"Heartfelt thanks to the Resort Municipality of Whistler for having come up with such a creative idea to recoup some of their outstanding tickets," said McDonnell on Tuesday morning. "It is really meaningful to us."

McDonnell said the demand for products from the food bank goes up at Christmas time, due in part to the economy and the pressure to spend for the holidays. Donations like the one from the municipality "really help get us through the Christmas rush."

The executive director added that the Whistler Food Bank typically works with just over $4,000 a month to distribute food to Whistler residents in need, and so receiving $2,500 is a substantial boost to their finances.

"That money will go to buying staples, which we give away with each food basket," he said.

"That is the three bags that make up what each food bank attendee receives. In it (the food baskets), there are the complete items from the Canada's Food Guide, like peanut butter, tuna, rice, grains like cereal, powdered milk, fruits and vegetables."

The Whistler Food Bank distributes the baskets to people in need on the first and third Monday of every month from the trailer behind the Catholic Church on Lorimer Road.

This year, the Whistler Food Bank served 762 people in 10 months. In 2008 the food bank assisted 523 over the entire year.




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