VICTORIA -- Drivers in downtown Victoria will soon be getting a break on parking fees with an extra hour of free parking in city parkades.

Parking in all city parkades will be free from 6 p.m. until 9 a.m. this summer, the city said Friday. Drivers currently have to start paying for parking in city garages at 8 a.m.

The move is part of an initiative to streamline parking fees at city-owned parkades. Parking rates at all parkades will be harmonized at $2 per hour, roughly 33 per cent cheaper than on-street parking, according to the city.

Downtown parking will remain free at city parkades on Sundays.

The announcement comes after the city announced it would expand its “pay-by-space" parking program to all of its downtown parkades this summer.

Under a pay-by-space system, rather than collecting and holding onto a ticket when they arrive and paying an attendant when they leave, drivers instead pay when they park using the ParkVictoria app or a pay station, just like they would when parking on the street.

Centennial Square Parkade will be the first to make the transition on May 10.

“We want people to come downtown and support local businesses, so I’m thrilled we can take this step to make parking a whole lot easier,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps in a statement Friday. “Being able to use the free ParkVictoria app in city parkades is a game-changer for shoppers and visitors looking for quicker, more convenient parking options downtown.”

To ensure free parking is still available for short-term use, one-hour free parking spaces will be available on the lower floors of city parkades.

The city operates five downtown parkades, which are open around the clock with more than 1,800 parking spaces. There are another 2,000 on-street parking spots downtown.