Days of free parking in Horsham's central business district will soon be over, with Horsham Rural City Council voting to reinstate parking meter fees.
Parking metres were switched off at the end of March to ensure the health and safety of Council staff and ease the financial pressure on residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Free parking was extended in June to entice residents to visit local businesses and could access the services they needed.
Council will ease the re-introduction of parking meter fees by offering 30 minutes free parking to anyone who pays for the space using the EasyPark app.
"I think people will be challenged, having got used to just jumping out of the car and not feeding the meters. I really appreciate that council considered having the 30 minutes of free parking as a phase back in," Cr Di Bell said.
A recommendation tabled to Council said the health risk from the use of meters had "significantly reduced" and it was recommended parking meter fees be reinstated with demand returning to a "pre-COVID" level.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, parking meters collected approximately $7,000 to $8,000 per week - equating to roughly $390,000 a year.
Council estimated it lost $300,000 of income for the period the parking meters were suspended.
Cr Les Power voted in favour of the motion, but questioned why only EasyPark users were offered 30 minutes of free parking.
"I don't see why I'm being penalised by using a parking meter, and not using the app. I dare say there'll be other people out there my age who don't use the app," he said.
Cr Bell said the EasyPark app offered a no-contact service for residents, and reduced the risk for Council staff.
"The EasyPark app is a way of having no contact with the meters, for those that are concerned. But also, our current meters wouldn't allow the first 30 minutes free. The only way for this promotion is through EasyPark," she said.
Free parking in Horsham's central activity district will end on December 31.