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Legion requests veterans parking pass

Don Asher, president of the Yellowknife legion, spoke for the governance and priorities committee to ask for assisted parking for veterans Brett McGarry/NNSL photo

The president of the local legion Don Asher, came before council Monday to ask the city to request help securing subsidized parking for veterans.

"We need some help for the military, we would like to have, not exactly free but assisted parking for members,” Asher said.

Asher has come up with a specific list of criteria for who they think should be eligible for the permits.

“The military permits will only be for veterans living in Yellowknife,” Asher said.

“It has to be for people who serve in the line of fire. I say I qualify because I've had three wives and I definitely have been in the line of fire, so they added another line that they must have fought on foreign ground.”

Finally Asher said they must also be members for the legion.

With this criteria Asher estimates there is approximately 15 to 25 veterans in Yellowknife who would get the passes.

Asher is extremely passionate about the legion, having had various members of his family serve, in addition to himself.

“We must remember why people are fighting for us and why we have everything today, I want to be there to make sure that we have this done and done properly.”

Navy Cmdr. John Dobbin, chief of staff at Joint Task Force North (JTFN) and legion member, helped Asher in the presentation with research on how other municipalities handle veterans parking.

“The program is a little different in each municipalities,” Dobbin said. He went on to explain how each municipality has a varying rules and methods of assisting veterans, some providing full free parking, others providing parking on special occasions.

“The spirit of the pass is to be occasional, not for someone to monopolize parking downtown for work or outside of their home,” Dobbin said.

“When a pass is used we provide the guidelines and believe it can be self governed.”

Concluding the presentation, Asher invited those in attendance to support the legion, which he said raised $140,000 in donations to the city last year.

“We'd like to invite everyone to come to new legion, it's a nice new clean building below Coyotes restaurant,” Asher said.

“It's a nice and clean place. It's not like some other bars in town where you go and sit down and someone comes around 'buy me a beer, give me a cigarette or would you like to come home with me and get lucky?' We don't have that.”

Coun. Robin Williams asked how difficult it would be for administration to undertake this task and city administrator Sheila Bassi-Kellett said challenges may lie in the screening process and work between the city and the legion would be required.

“I really appreciate the acknowledgement that this could take some time to do well.”

Bassi-Kellett stated that the GNWT is allowing the city to have a more robust role with parking, parking enforcement and parking court and this means they will be coming out with a parking by law where veterans parking could be included.

“At this point in time it is only open to people over 60 years of age and visitors,” Bassi-Kellet said.

“So when Mr. Asher raises this we appreciate that as we look at the by law we will be doing some work to look at and bring forward proposals for who can access parking.”

As it stands now veterans are able to park in the downtown JTFN parking lot. The request by Asher is for metred parking in the city.