People line up at 4 in the morning for downtown Vernon parking passes

Lined up at 4 a.m. in snow

Competition is fierce among downtown Vernon workers for favoured parking spots in city lots.

Getting a monthly parking pass is almost akin to winning the lottery, with those who secure the permits guaranteed a place to park, while lesser mortals must jockey for daily parking stalls.

The competitive nature of the quest for parking gold played out Monday morning with would-be parkers lining up outside City Hall as early as 4 a.m. – in sub-zero and snowy conditions.

The early bird gets the worm, as they say, because the permits are sold on a first come, first served basis and must be purchased in person at the City Hall cashier counter.

"The city continues to look at alternative processes and opportunities to improve this service, but unfortunately there is no online option available right now," says city spokesperson Christy Poirier.

"People lined up since before 4:15 this morning for parking passes so they can work in downtown Vernon. Totally archaic!" said one downtown worker.

"Coldest morning this fall, and we likely won't get parking spots. City Hall makes you line up to get a pass ... I am still recovering from Frosty's drama!" another said in an email to Castanet.

City staff did take pity on those who had made the parking pilgrimage, opening up council chambers at 7:15 a.m. "to help get customers in from the cold and snow, providing a warm and dry place to wait," says Poirier.

"They also provided each person who was waiting with a number, so they could go grab a coffee or leave temporarily, and still be able to purchase their permits in the order in which they arrived at City Hall."

Permit sales didn't begin until 8:30 a.m., meaning drivers were in line for more than four hours to get the coveted passes.

"At this point in time, the city does not have a mechanism that allows us to accept payments online for finance-related items," said Poirier, who added people who decide to line up very early to purchase parking permits do so "at their own discretion."

She says staff have taken steps to help improve the system over the last couple of years.

"Another adjustment made this year was that each person in the lineup was provided a form to fill out, indicating their first and second choices for permits in each city lot. Staff confirmed that almost every customer was able to receive their first or second choice," said Poirier.

Overall, customers were reportedly "in good spirits and were appreciative of being able to get into council chambers early to wait for the 8:30 opening of the finance counter."

"Certainly, we appreciate that the process is not ideal for everyone and that it can feel frustrating for some," Poirier added, noting that while the busiest lots have sold out, "we should also note that many permits are still available if people are looking for monthly parking in and around the downtown core for next year."

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