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

Cold water swimming a morning ritual for Willows Beach crew

Group turned heads when they slow-walked into the Polar Plunge

South Vancouver Island B.C. Hydro Customers without power

Due to high winds nearly 3,900 B.C. Hydro customer will be out of power

Sidney signs off on 2020 budget with 1.79 per cent tax increase

Budget also includes additional funding for Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

Search begins for two missing scouts near Sooke

Crews headed to Jordan River area after receiving call just after 2 p.m.

Scaffolding falls due to strong winds at Millstream Village Sunday afternoon

No injuries or vehicles damaged, according to West Shore RCMP

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Massive early-morning blaze destroys Vancouver Island home

Firefighters from three departments called in to battle fire at unoccupied residence

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

VIDEO: Wounded Warrior Run leaves Port Hardy on eight-day trek down Vancouver island

The team’s fundraising goal this year is $250,000, which is double last year’s goal.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Most Read