Individuals dedicated to a Trail food bank feel parking tickets are no way to repay volunteers who ensure those less fortunate get enough food for the week.
Trail United Church food bank representatives were joined by a supportive posse in council chambers Monday night, when they requested the city provide parking passes for volunteers parking outside the downtown church during operation time.
Though council denied their request, pointing to the hundreds of volunteers within the city that have to plug their meters, the plea brought on frank discussion on the growing need to fill cupboards in Greater Trail.
“Times have changed, when have we seen food banks in the City of Trail at this level?” asked councillor Gord DeRosa.
“It’s just an indication of the overall economic strife that our families have to go down and collect food from food banks.”
The volunteer-run food bank serves about 100 people on average from 10 a.m. until noon Tuesdays at the United Church, except for the second Tuesday of the month when the Anglican Church hands out food hampers.
About 15 volunteers are in the basement of the church sorting and packing goods Monday morning in preparation for the weekly hand out.
The food bank spends up to $1,500 a month to restock its shelves and also relies on pastry and bread donations from Safeway, The Pastry Shop and Ferraro Foods.
Trail resident Brad Longstreet, a volunteer also known as the “muscle,” said it was his need for the service that prompted him to want to give back.
He said volunteers get so caught up in trying to get the job done that they don’t have time to plug their meters and the allotted two-hour time limit is never enough.
“They get a parking ticket for helping out and I don’t think that’s right,” he told council.
Food bank coordinator Eleanor Harper reiterated that it’s not money they’re after. She recommended handcrafted meter covers that she could manage for the city.
“This is a very difficult thing for us to turn down, we wish to find another way to accommodate you,” explained Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs after council denied the food bank’s request.
Councillor Kevin Jolly said the city is in the process of re-calibrating parking meters to work with new lighter steel loonies and toonies expected this spring anyway and suggested staff look into increasing parking time limits as a possible solution.
An initial suggestion for a grant-in-aid was rejected and staff has been directed to look into a possible resolution that would work for both parties.
The city will in the meantime write a letter to the province expressing concern that there seems to be a growing need for support, be it food, shelter or assistance.