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

 

Just Posted

Chemainus sea walk plans get a boost

North Cowichan to sign right-of-way agreements with VIHA

Local beekeeper wants residents to use pesticides more responsibly

Paula Masyk has kept bees for a little over two months, and has had two pesticide events since then

Sizzling season starts with Summer Fest celebrations in Chemainus

Rotary Club event features plenty of food, entertainment and a parade

Memorial Midget C Hockey Tournament supports Puska

Ladysmith man in need of a kidney transplant receiving abundant financial contributions

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

Statistics Canada reports annual pace of inflation rises in May to 2.4%

Transportation prices gained 3.1 per cent as the cost of air transportation added 8.9 per cent

BREAKING: Forest fire on North Island disrupts Hwy. 19

Wildfire has reached .25 hectares, according to BC Wildfire Service

Man to be sentenced for sexual abuse of young girl in Nanaimo

Stephen Mark Castleden also sentenced for child pornography-related charges

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Horgan says he’ll still defend B.C. coast after second Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, one B.C. First Nation has announced plans for a legal challenge

VIDEO: Firefighters stop blaze from spreading after BMW crashes at Saratoga Speedway

Victoria-based businessmen were ‘corner training’ on Father’s Day when incident took place

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Grieving B.C. mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

Most Read