WINDSOR, ONT. -- Drivers won’t have to pay for parking while picking up take-out in Windsor while the city is in lockdown.

The City of Windsor is offering 15 minutes of free parking via the Passport Parking App to support local restaurant take-out business.

“This summer and fall we undertook a number of pilots to support our local small businesses, including waiving fees for sidewalk cafes and helping establish curb-side parklets for extra outdoor dining spaces,” said Mayor Drew Dilkens. “Earlier this month, the City of Windsor provided $180,000 to our local BIAs to set up additional holiday light displays. Today, I’m proud that we are continuing to find ways to support small businesses in Windsor in an effort to support our hometown entrepreneurs to cope with the economic effects of this public health pandemic.”

Regular users of the parking app can enter Zone #3800 at any meter in the city. They’ll be asked for their licence plate and then will have 15 minutes of free parking to pick-up their take-out meal. Anyone new to the app will need to make an account at, then follow the same easy sign-in for 15 minutes free. The app can be used once every six hours.

“We’re trying to help out some of the restaurants, not only in the downtown area but wherever there’s parking meters or lots within the City of Windsor,” said Bill Kralovensky, coordinator parking services at City of Windsor.

“They come in for lunch or dinner or even a quick coffee, they’re talking, they get distracted, they’re having a good time and then see the meter maid come in and they get a ticket,” said owner of Ortona Cafe Giovanni Cassano.

Cassano said take-out has made up most of his business since March, compared to when he first opened last year.

“When we first opened up, I’d like to say maybe the 80/20 rule,” he said. “Eighty per cent inside and only 20 per cent with the take out.”

Cassano sees the parking incentive as a good way to get people to support local businesses.

“We had to make the pivot to help us survive the first time and we have to do it again,” he said.

There are approximately 1,400 parking meters in the city.

“We don’t give away free parking a lot so use it,” Kralovensky said.

The free offer will be in effect as long as Windsor remains in the Grey-Lockdown zone of the provincial public health measures in response to COVID-19. Windsor-Essex officially entered lockdown on Monday and provincial guidelines say it will last a minimum of 28 days.

Information about the app can be found on City of Windsor parking meters and pay units that directs interested users to log on through their smart phone. Once there, users are able to download the Pay for Parking App and then pay for parking at the click of a button.