A City of Saskatoon committee agreed to expand its Veteran Parking Program this morning to include Afghanistan veterans.

Afghan vets will now be able to park for free. Until now, the program only included veterans of the Second World War, the Korean War and soldiers who took part in NATO and UN peacekeeping missions.

John Davidson, past president of the Saskatoon Legion

John Davidson, past president of the Saskatoon Legion, is happy with the decision to allow Afghan veterans to park for free. (Peter Mills/CBC)

John Davidson, past president of the Saskatoon Legion, is happy with decision.

"A veteran is a veteran," he said. 

Councillor Darren Hill said that many constituents called him about the issue. Everyone supported the extension of the program to Afghan vets, he said.

The city's Administration and Finance Committee recommendation will go to city council to be voted on.

A report from city administrators suggested that the program was never intended to be a permanent program. It went on to say that in 2007, council adopted the current criterion that excludes Afghan veterans, with the intent to have a sunset clause to abolish the program over time.

LC Tony Engelberts

Lieutenant Colonel Tony Engelberts wrote to city hall asking that Afghanistan veterans be including in Saskatoon's free parking program. (Courtesy Lieutenant Colonel Tony Engelberts)

The request to change the program came in a letter from the commanding officer of the North Saskatchewan Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Tony Engelberts.     

In that letter he wrote, “Our Regiment has seen its share of heartaches since the combat mission began in 2006; with some members being injured on their deployments to Afghanistan, and unfortunately some having to pay the ultimate sacrifice as well.”

There are approximately 100 Afghanistan veterans in Saskatoon. Extending the free meter parking program to them would cost an additional $8,000, increasing the annual operating costs of the veterans program to about $40,000. 

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