A non-profit organization is calling out the provincial health authority, urging it to cut “exploitative” hospital parking fees.
Hospitalpayparking.ca founder Jon Buss wrote in a blog post last week about a new $14.5-million contract between the Provincial Health Services Authority and parking lot operator Impark for hospitals in the Lower Mainland.
“BC Health Authorities have become addicted to the revenue hospital pay parking generates,” Buss wrote. “This is a problem many British Columbians are learning about the hard way at a time when they are at their lowest, weakest and often sickest.”
The organization obtained documents through a freedom of information request, detailing a five-year agreement, which began Jan. 1, that allows Impark to collect the $14.5 million fee to manage parking lots of 40 hospitals, as well as collect violation ticket revenue.
Health authorities will not receive any of the standard $80 parking ticket revenue, but will collect monies from the standard parking rate, to the tune of about $3.50 per hour for each vehicle.
The Provincial Health Services Authority has not returned a request for comment.
Buss said his organization has been in discussion with Fraser Health as well as the province to urge changes to the parking system, which can cause stress and anxiety for patients and their families. According to the group, parking costs for patients have risen nine per cent annually across B.C. since 2015.
Some cities have moved altogether to free parking. In Surrey, parking around hospitals is free for the first two hours. In 2017, when North Island Hospital opened its doors in Campbell River, the Vancouver Island Health Authority did not implement pay parking due to public outcry. In Maple Ridge, hospital parking is paid because of free street parking.
Delta and Mission have bylaws that forbid hospital pay parking.
The contract also includes replacing the controlled entrance and exit system, in which drivers pay their bill upon exiting based on how long they have parked, with ticket machines, with drivers estimating how long they will park. Buss said this increases the chance of violating parking rules and wracking up fines.
In 2018, B.C. health authorities generated $34.3 million of their total $12.4-billion operating budget through pay parking.
Pay parking in Fraser Health hospitals totalled $14.9 million of their $3.5-billion budget.
Hospitalpayparking.ca has called for hospital parking lots to be managed by local governments instead of private corporations.