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'Eradicate this addiction': Group pushes for the elimination of paid parking at B.C. hospitals

Last Updated Jan 23, 2019 at 10:13 am PDT

(Simon Druker, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Group suggests parking by donation, instead of a pre-determined price on parking at hospitals in B.C.

hospitalpayparking.ca says patient care shouldn't be dependent on parking

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s a bone of contention for virtually anyone who has to visit a hospital in B.C.: paid parking. After several attempts to do away with it, there’s a new push to “eradicate this addiction.”

A group is pointing to an online landscape “littered” with failed petitions, abandoned Facebook groups and a “softball expose” on the topic.

Now, hospitalpayparking.ca wants a new strategy to completely eliminate all paid parking at hospitals across the province. It says the revenue makes up less than a third of a per cent of the overall budget of all health authorities combined.

RELATED: Coquitlam mayor says high parking costs at RCH like a ‘tax’ on sick people

The group says patient care shouldn’t be dependent on parking, calling it a “financial barrier” and “unnecessary stress.”

“Hospital parking for patients and families is a huge burden,” one local hospital worker said to NEWS 1130.

“You have a family member stuck in the Intensive Care Unit for four or five months and you’re paying $18 a day. Even though they get weekly passes and things like that, it’s a huge onerous burden. And the patient stuck in the hospital is helped by the people coming to visit them.”

“I know a lot of people suffer because of paid hospital parking due to current illnesses,” said one man near Vancouver General Hospital Wednesday morning. “I think it’s important that we find way to help alleviate that suffering.”

The volunteer group pushing for the elimination of paid parking argues pay parking at hospitals is a user fee that discriminates.

“Only hospital patients and their supporters pay the fee, and only at certain hospitals. Due to the fact our cities were designed around the automobile, most people arrive at the hospital with a need for parking. Therefore it is only reasonable to conclude that health care delivery starts at the property line with proper parking facilities.

“We think the current welcome message at BC hospitals of ‘Hi, I’m the pay parking machine and I am your first priority at this hospital. Pay me.’ should be changed to one that welcomes people with empathetic compassion.”

Group proposes parking by donation

It is calling on British Columbians to talk to their local MLAs to terminate the practice of paid parking and proposes parking by donation.

The group argues parking by donation wouldn’t add to patients’ stress and give them a sense of being welcomed to the hospital. It also claims that method would still have a stable revenue stream.

“Altruism is a part of our human nature. It’s also the most novel component of our proposed solution to hospital parking. Our built-in altruistic tendency is the mechanism that will recreate the concept of hospital property being exclusive to those that need to be there. This instinct will persuade the rest of us to find parking elsewhere.”

RELATED: Surrey approves free two-hour parking at hospital, city hall

Back in November, Surrey City Council voted unanimously to bring in free two-hour parking for 103 spots near Surrey Memorial Hospital. However, about 2,000 spots at the hospital are in parkades owned by Fraser Health and still require payment.

Last month, Coquitlam’s mayor took to social media, complaining about the cost of parking at Royal Columbian Hospital.

“Seriously, when a family member is in Emergency, this shouldn’t be one of the considerations,” he wrote on Facebook.

Seriously, when a family member is in Emergency, this shouldn’t be one of the considerations. :/How can it be that a community’s most expensive parking is at the hospital?#taxonbeingsick 🙁

Posted by Richard Stewart on Sunday, December 23, 2018


Stewart has been calling on the province to step in and help.