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Kingston denies vets free parking

Jack Neilson

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Following appears on the Whig-Standard web page www.thewhig.com and in today's paper.

Council denies veterans free parking

By Dawn Cuthbertson
Local News - Thursday, August 25, 2005 @ 07:00

Kingston won't follow in the footsteps of cities like Ottawa and Toronto and give its war veterans free parking for the rest of the year in honour of the Year of the Veteran.

City councillors voted overwhelmingly Tuesday against a proposal from councillor Sara Meers to allow vehicles with war veteran licence plates to park in municipal lots or at meters for free until Dec. 31.

Meers had asked council to look at a report of a similar program running in Midland, Ont. But councillors voted down a request to even consider the Midland model.

The dismissal is a "slap in the face" to all of the men and women who risked their lives for Canada's freedom, said Kingston veteran Bill Sykes.

"I've got a funny feeling going through my body right now. I'm angry," Sykes told The Whig-Standard yesterday. "It's the Year of the Veteran. It's an insult."

Meers said she introduced the motion in a bid to join other municipalities paying tribute to Canadian veterans.


"I've always been a big supporter of our veterans and military because Kingston has quite a large military presence," Meers said yesterday.

Meers said she's disappointed the motion was quashed so quickly, with only a handful of councillors expressing interest in learning more about the initiative.

"It was defeated badly," she said. "I was hoping for a little bit more debate. Unfortunately, it seemed like it was not a hot topic [Tuesday] night."

Sykes and another veteran, Terry Murphy, had been lobbying Kingston city councillors since mid-July after Ottawa approved a similar plan.

"I think it's very shabby treatment by city council," Murphy said yesterday.

"I'm bitterly disappointed."

Sydenham district councillor Floyd Patterson said he voted against the motion because it's too difficult to distinguish between Royal Canadian Legion veterans who served in the First and Second World and Korean Wars and its associate members.

"It would be hard to sort out who really should be entitled to the privilege," Patterson said.

"Not all of the veterans who served long years have a licence plate or ever applied for one."

A veteran licence plate, often decorated with a red poppy, is issued by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. Men or women must have a minimum of three years paid service in the Canadian Forces to qualify. Members of NATO and the United Nations are also entitled.

Patterson said free parking for veterans is a "trivial" way to honour their service and dedication.

Designating a special education fund or dedicating a building in their name is a better way of expressing gratitude to veterans, Patterson said.

"That would be a heck of a lot more valuable than free parking for four months," he said.

Sykes, 60, worked in the Royal Canadian Navy's signals intelligence unit between 1962 and 1979.

"I was right up on the front lines in the Cold War," he said.

"I gave my youth to Canada and I paid for it. I did things that people outside of the military couldn't understand or do."

Now disabled and unable to walk after suffering three strokes and undergoing a heart transplant, Sykes said he relies on his wife to drive their vehicle, which is equipped with a veteran licence plate.

Meers said she hasn't given up on her mission to honour Kingston's veterans this year.

"I hope to get in touch with [the city's] operations committee to make sure this doesn't become a dead issue," she said.

"We only have four months left in this year, let's do something before it's too late.
 
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Well I don't know how to feel I mean my former 30 year old CIC officers had Vet plates and I think there @$$es can walk I think the restrictions for getting a Vet plate should be tougher before free parking is given out. But what do I know I'm 16
 

Angela F.

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I agree that the veteran plates should have stricter guidelines, but that topic has been done. 
It's true that it would be hard to distinguish who the true veterans are if they choose to allow the free parking by licence plate, but the solution to that would be to give a free parking pass to any vet who wants one and they can display it on the dash of their car.  Unfortunately I'm sure they'd come up with a way to make that a complicated and time consuming process, and the year will be over before anything is done.

Jack Neilson said:
Patterson said free parking for veterans is a trivial way to honour their service and dedication.
Designating a special education fund or dedicating a building in their name is a better way of expressing gratitude to veterans, Patterson said.
That would be a heck of a lot more valuable than free parking for four months, he said.

I think that Mr. Patterson is correct, that the city could do something bigger for the veterans, but if he has these ideas, why is it now August and nothing has been done?  I think that Kingston has missed an opportunity, a year that they could have shown some respect for a
group of people who long since proved that they deserve it.
I am disappointed by this, being from the Kingston area and from a Legion family, but I'm sure that as individuals we can show our support for veterans without the help of the city.
 

2 Cdo

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Of course it is trivial, but at least it would have been some measure of recognition. As for the plates, I agree 100% that the guidelines should be stricter. Living in Kingston I do see a number of people in the Forces who have Veteran plates and it seems a number of them have no time overseas, let alone time served in a war. I firmly believe the guidelines should either reflect actual service in a hostile environment or on RETIREMENT from the Forces. I firmly believe the young troop with 3 years in and no deployments should NOT be entitled to a veterans plate, which I have seen!
Just my opinion.
 

medicineman

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I agree with 2 Cdo about the restrictions on the plates - problem is what qualifies as a veteran under the Veteran's Act and our humble opinions tend to differ alot.  As for the issue at hand, the time I was posted in Kingston saw a number of problems with the City Council members and the military.  I recall vividly one time 2 RCHA had been granted Freedom of the City - after the parade, they were going to have some static displays set up in one of the parks with some entertainment for the kids, etc.  One of the council members brought forward a motion to deny the Regiment the permits to use the park, based on the fact that the dispalys and such were "glorifying war" - alot of votes were for the motion.  The parade ended up being postponed, as the CO was pretty miffed.  That is what is known as exercising the rights and freeedoms we get paid to protect - rather ironic if you ask me.

MM
 

pbi

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Medicine Man: I remember that incident with Kingston City Council. I also recall that when I was attending Army Staff College there during the Oka Crisis, the city council had a motion to send blankets and medicine to the poor "besieged" natives. I guess they're not worried abou defence, security and public order until its THEIR BMW and condo somebody is trashing.

Cheers.
 

Jack Neilson

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I agree with respondents that the criteria for being issued a veteran's plate should be MUCH stricter.  However, we are stuck with the official definition and will have to live with it.  I consider it specious for someone who has never "been there done it" to display a veterans plate even though legally they may be entitled.  I don't think that really that many do.  Today the Whig-Standard printed two letters regarding the article, which I reproduce here:  As mentioned in my letter the issue is not really parking but rather the attitude of Kingston's city council which has for many years been demonstrably anti-military and anti-veteran.  As an aside, at the same meeting council voted to grant an exemption to noise by-laws and to extend party hours for Queens University Homecoming, a normally rowdy affair accompanied by much damage to private property and outrageous hooliganism (admittedly conducted by a minority).  Also, at this meeting the city passed a motion to hire 40 additional off-duty policemen at overtime rates to police the homecoming at the taxpayers expense.  Queens will not pay even a portion.

Free Parking For Those Who Served

A Slap In the face For Veterans, Courtesy Of City Council

Re: the story "Council Denies Veterans Free Parking" August 25.
I find it disappointing that city council "voted overwhelmingly" against granting free parking to vehicles with war veteran license plates and that the motion "was defeated badly".  The free parking only would have been in effect the next four months left in this Year Of The Veteran and in my opinion the motion should have been discussed (and passed) when the government first authorized the plates for issue on Nov 9, 2004. 
Councillor Floyd Patterson commented that it would be hard to distinguish between Royal Canadian Legion members who served in wars and the Legion's associate members, but the plates are not Legion plates and associate members would not qualify for one.  They are issued without cost to veterans who have provided verified proof of veteran status and to currently serving Canadian Forces members with certain other documentation.  They are distinctive Ontario licence plates with a poppy and the word "VETERAN" in the bottom left corner.  Every province except Quebec has authorized a veterans plate and many municipalities across the country permit free parking during this Year Of The Veteran.  Still, I am not surprised by council's decision or the apparent lack of interest in debating the motion.  Kingston has a well-deserved reputation for treating its military, and by extension the veterans who have settled here with benign indifference at best.  Our elected officials show up on Remembrance Day and at events such as the recent 60th anniversary of VE Day, then relegate the military and veteran communities to oblivion until the next photo opportunity.  Would four months of free parking cost the city that much in fees and fines or would it adversely affect funds the mayor wants for Large Venue Entertainment Centre?  The pittance saved on parking fees is not important to most veterans but the attitude of council certainly is.  I thank Councillor Sara Meers for bringing this to council and I berate the rest of council for refusing to consider it.  This is indeed a slap in the face to all the men and women who risked their lives for Canada's freedom.
John H. Neilson
Kingston

Veterans Got The Really Hard Things Done

"It would be hard to sort out who really should be entitled to the privilege," Councillor Floyd Patterson said in commentating on a plan to offer free parking to war veterans in Kingston ("Council denies veterans free parking", Aug 25)
Yes, it probably would be.
Its probably not as hard, though, as flying around in the dead of night in an aircraft, wondering if someone is about to blow you out of the sky.
Or bobbing around the ocean in a gale and trying to protect other ships while making sure you don't get sunk yourself.
Or sitting in a shell hole full of mud and water, trying to survive.
Or manning a post as a peacekeeper and wondering if the next person or vehicle to come along will blow up in your face.
Or staying alive in a prison camp.
Or just doing a job that bores you to tears but that has to be done right because someone's life might depend on it.
Hard? Yes. Trivial? Perhaps. Worth it? Definitely.
War veterans found a way to do the really hard things.  Don't you think these guys and gals have earned at least a parking spot?
Don Gately
Kingston

 

medicineman

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I guess they're not worried abou defence, security and public order until its THEIR BMW and condo somebody is trashing.


PBI - That about sums up a fair number of the City Council I remember so well.  Not long after that happened, Don Cherry ( a resident of nearby Wolfe Island and a HUGE supporter of the Legion) wrote a full page letter to the editor basically slamming the councillors involved.  What really gets me about the whole episode was that when I got there in '95, I was expecting to close that place out - the Base Commander there mananged to do alot of politicing to keep the place open and that's how those clowns repaid the global "us" of the CF.

Incidentally, long time no see/talk to.

Cheers.

MM
 

Kat Stevens

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I think the council is bang on. I mean, sure, those guys went off and got maimed both physically and mentally in two Great Misunderstandings and Korea, But what have they done for us lately? ::)

Kat

 

Shec

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So the clowns at Silly Hall are worried that a few dozen motorists might euchre the City of Kingston, a city whose economy has been supported in no large part by servicemen, out of a few thousand dollars in parking fees?    Shame,  Shame.  What a bunch of mean-spirited little minds.
 

denisottawa

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I think it should be free for life. How many veterans are alive today? I would say those who fought in WW1-WW2 and aruond those times should get more than what they deserve. Anyways I simple think Kingston are cheap and have no appreciation for the vets. Specialy when it was most of the council voting agaisnt it, shame on you.
 

Fishbone Jones

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Your preaching to the choir here. Write to the Kingston newspapers and city council. :salute:
 

axeman

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Kat Stevens said:
I think the council is bang on. I mean, sure, those guys went off and got maimed both physically and mentally in two Great Misunderstandings and Korea, But what have they done for us lately? ::)

Kat

i seem to see that there are a few new names in the book of rememberance with the place of death being in Afghanistan ,Bosnia ,Croatia and others, as to wounds theres all sorts of personel coming back from UNMO [United Nations Mission Observers ] missions wounded that you  never hear about .
 

Kat Stevens

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Alright then, I ammend my post to include all those anywhere, anytime, who went somewhere and did something.  Is that better?  Hope I didn't miss anyone, or offend anybody... ::)
 
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