Pay parking at Delta Hospital remains a non-starter.
The advocacy group HospitalPayParking.ca made news this week when it revealed that parking revenues for all five B.C. health authorities hit a combined all-time high of $36.4 million.
A news release noted those increases were well in excess of the rate of inflation.
The figures show Fraser Health has collected in the neighbourhood of $15 million in each of the last two years.
None of that money was collected in Delta as a bylaw enacted in 2010 bans pay parking at Delta Hospital. Civic politicians at the time gave final reading to the bylaw that was originally introduced six years earlier but never enacted until Fraser Health appeared ready to implement pay parking.
Then FHA CEO Dr. Nigel Murray pointed out Delta was the only community in the health region not to allow pay parking at its hospital, resulting in an estimated revenue loss of about $440,000. Murray said he was hoping both sides could find "mutually agreeable solutions."
But don’t expect that to happen, said Lois Jackson, who was mayor at the time the bylaw was approved and is now a city councilor. She said keeping the ban is important for the community.
“We were poorly received by Fraser Health, they were furious with us. The CAO of the day said, ‘You are going to pay all this money that we would normally get from parking,’ and I said, ‘You bring it on because we’re taking you to court.’ So, we stood our ground and said no.”
Jackson said she was forced to “pay a fortune” a few years ago when visiting her late daughter in Kamloops, and last year had to endure the same situation to spend time with her other daughter who has medical challenges and spent a lengthy period in hospital in Surrey.
“I don’t know how many parking fines I paid because I didn’t refill the meter in time, but thought this was criminal and this is not Canadian. People in that kind of trauma and sadness and hurt shouldn’t have to be thinking they’re going to get an $80 fine from the parking company. They have no soul and don’t care and it’s very expensive,” said Jackson.
Lisa Hoglund, executive director of the Delta Hospital and Community Health Foundation, said the health region hasn’t tried to resurrect the issue with the foundation.
“From a personal standpoint, I think it’s amazing that our community has access without having to pay. In moments of stress, when you’re having to deal with loved ones being sick or injured, the last thing you want to worry about is parking,” she said.
Noting the community of Delta paid for the hospital and continues to generously support the purchase of new equipment, Delta Hospital Auxiliary president David Dee agreed the last thing a patient or visitor needs to go through is the stress of plugging a meter or facing a stiff fine.
“Most of the time it seems these large institutions, when they say they’ll introduce pay parking, they end up outsourcing it to a third party and spend only pennies on the dollar to manage the resource. By the time the maintenance fees are paid and the parking companies take their profit, there’s virtually nothing left for the hospital anyway,” Dee added.