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The one-hour free offer will apply seven days a week until the end of August.
"We want people to come into the city centre and support the local hospitality and retail businesses over winter," said Mayor Lianne Dalziel.
"One way we can encourage people to do that is to provide the first hour of parking free in the Lichfield St and Christchurch Art Gallery parking buildings.
The one-hour free offer will reduce the council's budgeted revenue by about $300,000 over three months.
"Councillors were aware of the impact on revenue as a result of the one-hour free parking offer. However, it is a practical way we can support our central city businesses as they recover from the COVID-19 Level 4 and 3 restrictions," Dalziel said.
"Our city centre was just starting to really pick up again after the devastation of the earthquakes when the Covid crisis hit.
"The businesses in the area are now faced with a whole new set of challenges and they have asked us for help.
“There was a debate around one-hour or two-hours free off-street parking and we have settled on a one-hour free parking offer, which has proven successful in the past at encouraging more people into the city centre.
"We’re hoping that by re-introducing it on a short-term basis we can stimulate more activity in the central city over the winter."
People visiting the central city who chose to use on-street metered parking will be charged the standard fee of $3.10 per hour.