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Burnaby scraps parking meters near hospital but some say not enough

Last Updated Jul 10, 2019 at 1:57 pm PDT

Burnaby Hospital (Photo courtesy Fraser Health Authority)

Burnaby city council has voted to remove parking meters for 33 parking spots near Burnaby hospital

Gary Hee, who's been petitioning the province for free hospital parking, says patients shouldn't have to pay

Health ministry says it is looking at parking policies at hospitals

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – Burnaby’s move toward free two hour parking outside its hospital is a good start but doesn’t address the main issue, says a man who’s been advocating for free parking for patients.

Burnaby city council voted to get rid of pay parking for 33 street spots outside Burnaby Hospital Tuesday night.

Gary Hee is currently petitioning the province to have free parking at hospitals around the province and says getting rid of meters is better than the status quo, but more needs to be done.

“It’s criminal to be forcing people to pay a fee. It’s like extortion or blackmail. It’s just not fair,” he tells NEWS 1130.

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

“I thinks it’s a no brainer, they should just say ‘yes’, free parking for four hours. Even two hours is better than nothing but right now the people have to pay for every minute.”

He argues it’s especially hard on people who maybe weren’t planning to go to the hospital and don’t know how long they’ll be there.

“Those who go specifically for emergency, to see the emergency department, should be entitled to four hours of free parking while they’re waiting for a doctor or nurse. And they shouldn’t have to pay because they don’t know how long they’ll be waiting because the service is slow.”

RELATED: Langley man’s petition for free hospital ER parking is growing

In Vancouver, city councillor Pete Fry says he hasn’t heard a call for a removal of metered parking but he would ask staff to look at it if it was something the public was pushing for.

“All three of our major hospitals are quite accessible to transit and we have a pretty decent taxi system,” he says.

Meantime, the health ministry is taking a look at parking policies at hospitals, but the province points out many hospitals allow you to apply for parking fees to be waived if you can prove hardship.