Yet another Metro Vancouver mayor is taking on their health authority over the controversial issue of pay parking at hospitals.
Last year, we told you about Delta Mayor Lois Jackson’s stance on parking at the city’s hospital (they don’t charge).
Now Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read is taking the same concerns from her city to Fraser Health.
LISTEN: Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read on why hospital parking is too expensive
Read says the day price the health authority charges for parking at the Ridge Meadows hospital is about $8.25, far and away above what is charged anywhere else in the city for parking.
The rec centre for example charges $0.75 an hour, while at the West Coast Express it’s $1.00, on top of a WCE ticket.
“The most expensive gig in town right now is the hospital. And so for us, it’s not really in line with the rest of the city even with respect to what citizens expect to pay for parking,” she says.
But that’s not the biggest problem.
Read says it’s putting an unfair burden on some of the community’s most vulnerable.
“The costs are making people make decisions to not go and visit loved ones because it’s so expensive for people on fixed incomes, we need to find a way to bring that down.”
Read says the issue is particularly troubling for older people, who may need to visit the hospital regularly.
“One of the challenges that especially our seniors have, who use the hospital a lot for services, they go in for appointments, you know is this worry they have, when they pay for parking they can’t anticipate how long they’re going to be, and that they’re going to come out and get a ticket.”
She says a move to pay-by-phone currently in the works could alleviate some of that, but notes many seniors do not have or use smartphones.
It’s not a new issue in the community. Back in 2014, the city heard a petition in which hundreds had signed complaining about the hospital parking fees.
Read says it’s still an issue the city is hearing about regularly, and after reviewing their legal options and concluding they couldn’t stop the hospital, she met with Fraser Health.
Fraser Health spokesperson Tasleem Juma says they are not reviewing their parking policy, but that Fraser Health’s director of parking met with the mayor in an effort to respond to community concerns.
“As hospitals are often centrally located, their parking spaces are very sought after. Parking rates are required to ensure spaces are available and people who are ill and their families don’t have to walk too far once at the hospital. Parking rates encourage stall rotation to ensure patients have access to parking at all times,” Juma said in an emailed statement.
Geoff Roberts, Fraser Health’s director of parking, was unavailable for an interview.
Mayor Read says she’s now encouraging people to contact Fraser Health directly and raise their concerns in the hopes that fees can be at least lowered.