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

PHOTOS: BC Children’s lottery offers luxury downtown Victoria home as a prize

The Choices Lotto has luxury homes across the province

Island teen climber seizes last opportunity to qualify in 2020 Olympic games

Brennan Doyle, 16, heads to L.A. for Pan American Climbing Championships

University of Victoria profs take home prestigious national teaching award

Brent Mainprize and Edōsdi–Judy Thompson recognized as a 2020 3M National Teaching Fellows

Victoria modular housing complex built to house homeless Indigenous women

Spa’Qun, or ‘Flower House’ will provide shelter and cultural support

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay Victoria man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Alleged shoplifter caught on camera at Sidney boutique

Staff at Cameron Rose Gifts seek the public’s help locating woman

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

UPDATE: Lockdown lifted at Nanaimo high school following threats

Nearby elementary school was in hold-and-secure

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read