Ashburton District Council will provide free car parking in the Eastfield car park during the Christmas season.
At a Council Environmental Services Committee meeting today, Councillors agreed that free parking should be made available in the car park on Tancred and Cass Streets from 7 December to 5 January.
Fifteen businesses had asked the Council to offer free parking, for up to 30 minutes or similar, in East Street. However, the Council declined the request due to the difficulty of monitoring it.
The retailers said they had noticed a significant reduction in foot traffic on East Street since the Council installed new pay and display machines.
While the performance of the new pay and display machines had been "far from ideal", the Council had been working with the contractor to make significant improvements, Environmental Services Group Manager Jane Donaldson said.
"It is not possible to provide free parking for 30 minutes in East Street because parking officers will have no way to determine how long each car has been parked," she said.
The Council instead opted to provide free all-day parking in the Eastfield car park until after the holidays.
Cr Russell Ellis said the onus would be on retailers and other employers in the CBD to advise their staff that the free parking was intended for customers only. "The success of this initiative relies heavily on Ashburton employees doing the right thing to help retailers increase their foot traffic and to help shoppers have good access to parking for their Christmas shopping," he said.