Hybrid drivers in Kelowna get a break

City council agrees to keep giving drivers of hybrid vehicles free parking for two more years.

Owners of many models of hybrid vehicles on Kelowna roads today are getting a two-year break when it comes to parking.

After pulling the free-parking privilege for divers of what council deemed to be old technology in February in favour of promoting totally electric vehicles, all but two members of city council had a change of heart Monday.

Now the city’s Eco-Pass program will applicable for new-style electric vehicle, and, until June 2018, hybrids that have a fuel consumption of less than six litres per 100 kilometres.

The change was made after Coun. Luke Stack, who drives a hybrid, voiced his concern in February that drivers who have already made an investment in helping the environment by buying a hybrid vehicle should not loos the free-parking perk.

At the time,council asked staff to take another look at the new rule and  on Monday a report was presented to council including the two-year break for existing hybrids.

With seven of council’s nine members voting in favour, the only dissenters were Couns. Gail Given and Ryan Donn, who said they felt the free-parking perk should be used to help push new technology.

But others, such as Mayor Colin Basran, said they were swayed by Stack’s argument that any switch to a hybrid vehicle was helping improve the environment in the city.

Coun. Brad Seiben said help agreed with the two-year extension adding he felt the less-than-six-litres-per-100-litres rule was the right cutoff point. It will mean that driver so of large hybrid vehicles such as truck and SUV will not be eligible.

The city issued 1,062 Eco-Passes in 2015, a huge increase from the 43 it handed out just a few years ago when the program started.

The pass allows for two hours of free parking per day in city lots.

Stack said he toured seven local car dealerships and was told by sales people demand is just not there yet for new electric vehicles.

But he predicted that will change.

“We’re just not there yet,” he told council.