22/02/2022 - 15:14

Free parking, grants to coax CBD visits

22/02/2022 - 15:14

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The City of Perth has offered free night time parking, free alfresco dining and $5,000 cash grants to support businesses as COVID-19 curbs visitor and worker activity in the CBD.

Free parking, grants to coax CBD visits
Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas announced three new initiatives designed to support small businesses in the Perth area. Photo: David Henry

The City of Perth has offered free night time parking, free alfresco dining and $5,000 cash grants to support businesses as COVID-19 curbs visitor and worker activity in the CBD. 

The measures were announced this afternoon by Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas in a bid to support Perth business owners and operators impacted by a lack of usual foot traffic as more people opt to work from home.

Stage 1 of the City’s ‘Perth bounce back’ initiative includes free night-time parking across the City of Perth and grants of up to $5,000 for eligible small businesses.

“Fee free” and “fast tracked” alfresco dining permits are also set to be made available under the initiatives to make it easier for food and beverage operators to put out alfresco dining.

Mr Zempilas said a dwindling worker presence in Perth’s largest office towers had made it difficult for businesses operating in the city, but was hopeful that the new measures would provide support.

Vacancies at the Convention Centre car park provided a barometer of CBD activity.

“On most days that car park is close to 100 per cent full,” Mr Zempilas said.

“At 10am yesterday it was 63 per cent full.

“That’s one of our major car parks, very popular with office workers and its down more than a third.”

Sneakers & Jeans Hospitality Group chief executive Andy Freeman said the measures were positive overall and a step in the right direction.

“I’m grateful that the City of Perth have stepped up to offer some support and encouragement for people to visit,” Mr Freeman told Business News.

“$5,000 could be the difference between life and death for a small café’.

The $5,000 grants will not be inexhaustive, according to Mr Zempilas, but are hoped to provide a fast-tracked cash boost for those that need it.

“Essentially it’s an open dialogue between them and the City of Perth,” he said.

“We want them to apply, we want them to ask, we don’t want this to be a difficult process and we want to be as helpful as we possibly can.

“And if in time we recognise demand in other areas or if business owners and operators are telling us of assistance needed in other areas, then that is what we plan for rounds two or three or more as required.”

Mr Freeman, whose group owns several Perth venues including The Flour Factory, Varnish on King and Hadiqa has been a vocal representative for the hospitality industry during the pandemic.

He said any measures that help cut through red tape were particularly useful.

“Anything that we’re doing we’re trying to do quickly.

“It’s all very reactive during COVID, so fast easy and less expense is attractive.”

The City of Perth announcement comes nine days before WA's border restrictions are set to be lifted. 

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