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Free parking ... Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher and Deputy Mayor Melanie Tavendale hope free parking will encourage more people to shop locally. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

The Waitaki District Council has extended free parking in Oamaru’s town centre until July.

The council turned off its metered parking during Covid-19 Alert Levels 4 and 3, and has announced it has extended free parking until July 1.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher hopes the move will provide a boost to local businesses, making it easier for customers to visit shops and increase trade.

“It was pretty evident that, for a while at least, there was going to be less people and traffic around,” Mr Kircher said.

“We saw [free parking] as an opportunity to help encourage people to shop locally.”

Time limits still applied, and the council was encouraging business owners and employees to keep the parks free for customers.

Unmetered parking spaces with time limits would also be monitored.

“It does require us to keep monitoring to make sure there’s good turnover of parks so the public can find parks easily enough to access businesses and go and spend money at them,” Mr Kircher said.