The Victoria General Hospital saw the second-highest amount of tickets issued for parking infractions out of Island Health facilities. (Black Press Media File Photo)

Advocates call hospital parking fees a ‘shakedown’ after learning most Island tickets are waived

Victoria General and Royal Jubilee hospitals among the most ticketed on the Island

Activists say that parking fees implemented at B.C. hospitals are nothing short of a shakedown after learning that a majority of parking tickets issued at hospital lots are never paid.

The Hospital Pay Parking organization is a volunteer-based group advocating for the stripping of mandatory parking fees and the installment of better parking solutions at B.C. hospitals, calling the enforcement of paid parking at hospitals “exploitative” of the ill.

In a recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the group learned that a majority of the time there is no consequence to not paying parking fees.

“The whole concept over paid parking is predicated on a lot of threats … people don’t understand, when you park at a hospital it’s crown land, it’s public,” said Jon Buss, lead volunteer with Hospital Pay Parking. “There’s no need to pay at all. They are confirming that most tickets are unpaid, and that no one gets towed.”

According to the FOI documents, between April 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019, 13,105 tickets were issued at 11 Island Health hospitals and 4,660 were paid. This translates into a total of $327,625 in parking fines that were handed out, with only $92,428 collected. Sixty-seven per cent of these tickets were to hospital staff, not guests.

ALSO READ: End ‘exploitative’ parking fees at B.C. hospitals, group says

The highest-ticketed hospitals were the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, the Victoria General Hospital and the Royal Jubilee Hospital.

Additionally, no patients or guests were towed; all 13 cars which were towed belonged to hospital staff.

This, according to Buss, is an example of how the government works with private agencies to gain revenue based on empty threats.

“You can shakedown anyone you want … but you can’t prey on the sick and the elderly,” Buss said. “People are sick, anxious, medicated, and that’s not appropriate, especially when business is approved by the government. That’s the real problem we have here. “

Island Health has a contract with Robbins Parking for the facilities, all of which see a maximum fee of $25.00. Robbins operates the lots and collects the fees, while the hospital takes the funds from the regular pay rates, which vary between $1.50 to $2.75 per hour, with weekly rates available.

READ MORE: Hospital pay parking revenue in B.C. topped $36M last fiscal

In a November conference meeting in Victoria, BC Health Minister Adrian Dix said that the province is reviewing current paid parking policies, noting that hospital parking fees bring in about $40 million in gross revenue annually.

More than $8 million was brought in to Island Health hospitals, a healthy revenue considering that only $1.2 million goes to Robbins.

“The big takeaway is to think twice before you pay for parking when you have to use the services of a hospital,” Buss said. “We want to put pressure on the ministry [of health] so it takes action before the 2022 election.”

The best solution, Buss said, would be to immediately implement two hours of free parking, as was recently introduced for city streets around the Surrey Memorial Hospital. That would leave time for patients and supporters to settle into a hospital and register with administration for free use of the lot, while anyone who hadn’t registered would still be susceptible for fees.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook, send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

HospitalsparkingRoyal Jubilee HospitalVictoria General Hospital

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

Just Posted

Motorists should expect periodic delays and detours on Chemainus and River Roads

Work on corridor upgrade project to intensify in the weeks ahead

Kernachan’s cartoon flashback 2017

What was happening then is pertinent again with recent wildfire smoke

What’s the point of this election?

It might make political sense, but totally wrong during a pandemic

Vancouver Island under a thunderstorm watch tonight

Environment Canada forecasts downpour and possible thunder and lightning

Where there’s a will, there’s a way for Geddie

Calypso Jewelry Design emerges on Chemainus Road since the pandemic

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Island Corridor Foundation launches survey on importance of Vancouver Island rail

“ICF remains 100 per cent committed to the restoration of full rail service on Vancouver Island”

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Island RCMP remind drivers not to text after 19 tickets handed out in 90 minutes

The $368 fines were handed out Tuesday on Norwell Drive and Old Island Highway in Nanaimo

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Three years for serial bank robber who hit southern Vancouver Island branch

Lucas Bradwell was wanted for robberies in Abbotsford, Sidney and Vancouver

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Most Read