When our campaign first called on the provincial government and health authorities to reform hospital pay parking back in 2018, we laid out what a better system might look like. We also addressed the most obvious option to the current payment system – free-for-all parking.
COVID-19 has further dialed up stress levels on both hospital patients and medical staff who still have to find parking everyday. So how does the current pay parking system work during a pandemic? Not very well it turns out. Last week several BC media outlets reported on some overworked nurses receiving parking tickets (Impark operates with no shame) and called me for comment on the matter. Days later health minister Adrian Dix announced free parking at all BC hospitals “until further notice”. Initially this decision might seem like the sensible thing to do given the current situation, but it didn’t take long for the free parking facilities to be abused by the public at large while medical staff struggled to find available spaces. Ultimately this move to free-for-all parking will create far more problems, for reasons we’ve clearly identified on our website. My hope is that this poor decision from our leaders will be the catalyst to real hospital parking reform in the near future.
The hospital parking mess we’re in now is a result of the provincial governments addiction to the easy, reliable and stable revenue stream that comes from the user fee that is hospital pay parking. If Adrian Dix would have taken our calls for reform more seriously back in 2018, the province would likely have a much different hospital parking system that could better handle the parking needs during times of exceptional demand and stress for everyone accessing healthcare. Instead minister Dix defended the minuscule revenue that comes from this user fee and complained he couldn’t replace it. Now he’s learning the hard way that pay parking is universally unsupported by the public and totally unacceptable, unenforceable and unworkable during a pandemic.