Wellington’s new parking fees may affect church attendance

parking fees

The Wellington City Council has voted to introduce weekend parking fees in the city.

Previously there were two hours of free weekend parking in the CBD. Now the parking fee will be $2.50 per hour.

The parish priest of St Mary of the Angels, Fr Conroy SM, told CathNews that the new charges will have a significant impact on those attending Mass in the Boulcott St church.

St Mary of the Angels is one of 16 Central Wellington Christian congregations that will be affected by the new regime.

Conroy said a joint submission was made by the churches to the committee but they were unsuccessful in getting any concessions.

On Thursday Roger Wigglesworth from Wellington’s Anglican Cathedral of St Paul told councillors at the City Strategy Committee parking fees will lead to there being fewer people in churches and reduce the church income.

He suggested alternatives such as parking-exempt labels for churchgoers during services, which was offered by the Auckland and Queenstown councils.

This led to Councillor Brian Dawson putting forward an amendment in which Sunday parking charges would start at 10 am in recognition of the number of Wellingtonians who attend church services.

He said he was concerned for the elderly who had difficulty using public transport. He was “not interested” in giving free parking to people going to Arise Church because many were young and could catch a bus.

Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons warned the amendment would set a dangerous public policy precedent.

“I don’t think this council should pick particular religions we like or places and subside their attendees with parking.

“The legality of this is questionable, particularly given the comments about Arise Church and the comparison made.”

The Chair of the City Strategy Committee, Councillor Iona Pannett, was appalled the matter was even brought up.

“I do not see how we can single out a Christian community, when there are other faiths and I think this has been done on the hop, with no analysis, and I do not think this is acceptable,” she said.

Dawson’s amendment was lost with a vote from the mayor tipping the scales against the move to have part of Sunday morning parking free.

Source

News category: New Zealand.

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