Vancouver Island rejects northern plea for free hospital parking

North Island push to stop parking fees at new Courtenay and Campbell River hospitals fails to gain support

Delegates to the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities settle in to debate a series of resolutions Saturday morning.

There appears to be a large gap between residents of north and south Vancouver Island on the issue of pay parking at hospitals.

And that has left north end politicians feeling somewhat betrayed by their southern counterparts.

A plea from north Island communities for support in their bid to eliminate parking fees at new hospitals being constructed in Campbell River and Courtenay was rejected at the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities conference last weekend.

“It’s extremely disappointing,” Quadra Island-based Strathcona Regional District director Jim Abram said. “I think a lot of people there don’t understand the dynamics of the north Island. It was a very poorly thought-out move.”

Abram is the elected local representative for the Discovery Islands — a sprawling collection of rugged islands and remote inlets stretching northeast from Campbell River onto the mainland.

His constituents — and those in neighbouring communities like Gold River, Tahsis, Port Alice and Sointula — will be served by the new $274.5 million, 95-bed hospital opening in late 2017 in Campbell River.

Abram said the difference between these people and the people in the south island is that in the north many people have to drive four or five hours on a dark logging road or aboard a ferry to get to their hospital. Often, their incomes are lower and their options fewer.

“Then they have the stress of maybe not being able to go back home,” he said, adding the additional issue of feeding a parking meter is something they don’t need.

Saanich councillor Judy Brownoff said she is sympathetic to the situation in the north but for her it’s a question of how to best use health care dollars. Parking is an expensive service. Free parking means parking maintenance will take money away from actual health services.

“It’s a difficult situation,” she said. “I’d rather the dollars go to health care than a parkade.”

That reflects the position of Island Health.

In a February interview, Island Health corporate director of logistics and operations James Hanson told Black Press parking fees are necessary in order to provide parking services since Island Health will always pick health care over parking when it comes to setting budget priorities.

“If we didn’t have parking fees, we would have to take it out of patient care money,” he said. “It’s that simple.”

Courtenay and Campbell River will join Royal Jubilee, Victoria General, Aberdeen, Gorge Road, Saanich Peninsula, Nanaimo and Priory as Island Health facilities charging fees. They will also be implemented at future facilities like the planned Cowichan District Hospital replacement.

Fees at the new hospitals are expected to mirror those of existing hospitals down-Island — typically between $2.25 and $2.75 for the first two hours, and $1.25 for each additional hour. Weekly permits are available for $26.75, and subsidies are in place for certain types of patients and people in need.

B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake has informed the regional district that officials intend to proceed with the fees, but Abram said residents have yet to give up the fight.

“This kind of thing should never be happening in this day and age,” he said. “It is difficult to say what we will do next, but we are going to do something. This is sick.”

Follow me on Twitter @JohnMcKinleyBP

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

Man found dead in his tent at Chemainus homeless camp

Facebook posts tell of personal struggles and attempts to stay clean and sober

Town of Ladysmith adopts 1.92 percent tax increase for 2020

Mayor Aaron Stone said the increase balances lost revenue while maintaining town services

Ladysmith principal mourns family killed during US protests

Jelks says he’s grateful for the outpouring of support from the community in the wake of this tragedy

Considerations made to keep Crofton drive-by birthday celebrations going

Trucks will tone it down or not use horns at all to bring some joy to kids and older folks

Trudeau offers $14B to provinces for anti-COVID-19 efforts through rest of year

Making a difference in municipalities is a pricey proposition

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

‘Alarmed’: Health critic calls for more data on COVID-19 in trucking industry

Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec said that level of detail is not being collected

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Most Read