EDITORIAL – How parking at Royal Inland Hospital CAN be free

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

EVERY TIME paid parking at Royal Inland Hospital comes up, the answer from the bureaucracy and the politicians is basically — too bad, so sad, gotta be that way.

But does it really? A new hospital officially opened in Campbell River just a few days ago and, guess what? Parking is free.

That’s because the City council there passed a zoning bylaw prohibiting the health authority from charging people to park at the hospital.

That’s not the only place where hospital parking is free. Delta has the same deal. So do Courtney, Duncan, Port Alberni and Mission.

The means for doing this comes through zoning. Bylaws are amended to ban pay parking in the zones where hospitals are located.

The council in Delta approved it years ago. Mission followed suit. And then others.

So why hasn’t it been done at Royal Inland Hospital? Why doesn’t Kamloops City council tell the Interior Health Authority to stop this awful practice of charging people to park when they’re already in stressful situations?

The actual legality around using zoning bylaws to regulate against pay parking at public health facilities is somewhat murky. Some argue that City councils have no such authority.

Others say pay parking contravenes the Canada Health Act because user fees — otherwise known as a tax on the sick, which is what paying for hospital parking amounts to — deter people from accessing health care.

But in Campbell River and Delta, for example, the health authorities contemplated legal challenges and then backed off, possibly due to concerns about the costs of paying lawyers to fight it, and the heap of bad PR that would be reaped from it.

Kamloops City Hall tells me it’s doubtful that banning pay parking would stand up to a legal challenge. But then, there’s the thing about everybody getting along and whether a drawn-out court case would be worth it.

So, is anyone at City Hall willing to try? Does anyone in the upcoming civic by-election have the stones to take it on as an issue?

We shall see.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops, former school board chair, former editor of The Kamloops Daily News, and a current director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He was awarded the Jack Webster Foundation’s lifetime achievement award in 2011. His editorials are published regularly on CFJC Today and he appears Wednesdays on the CFJC-TV evening news with his Armchair Mayor commentary. Contact him at

About Mel Rothenburger (6121 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

5 Comments on EDITORIAL – How parking at Royal Inland Hospital CAN be free

  1. Or at the very least the pay on your way out was much better. Then I could deal with the stressful situation and not have to worry about wether my metre was running low. Had a bad situation with a parking patrol employee who gave me a ticket for parking past my ticket time. I was in a highly stressful meeting with Doctors over a loved ones life and the meeting ran later than expected. I found this system callous and mean. I sat crying in my car for a long time before I could get myself together to drive home. I haven’t paid the ticket and don’t think I ever will.

  2. Another issue that council knew about, and did nothing to solve . Disgusting.

  3. Being a patient at RIH for 6 months of Chemo…my husband and I found that other NON-PATIENT people are using the new parkade for their own use for work. The day parking at RIH I believe is cheaper than what the City charges for day parking….so free is fine but only if could be regulated that it’s ONLY for the use of patients and care givers…so don’t know how that could possibly be controlled….but shame on the people that use that parkade for their own use for working somewhere downtown….

  4. Me thinks that City Hall is worried about thinking outside the box and can’t use their imagination. Secondly, for IHA, it is a money grab.

    • I so agree with you Arm chair Major, it should be free, it’s hard enough for people on low incomes to have $$ to pay for parking and for people to remember to pay for parking under stressful situations!!! If other hospitals have free parking so should RIH🙁🙁so agree!! Big money grab

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