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EDITORIAL – And another thing about parking at RIH – it should be free

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

IT’S BEEN MORE THAN A WEEK since we talked about lack of parking at Royal Inland Hospital so — now that the Clinical Services Building elevators are working again and everything’s back to normal — let’s talk some more about what should be normal.

Namely, parking fees.

A group with a website called hospitalpayparking.ca says Interior Health stats obtained under Freedom of Information show that only half the parking tickets issued in the health region are ever paid.

It’s even worse at Royal Inland, where close to 8,000 tickets were issued in one year but only 3,100 have been paid. If all the tickets had been paid, at $57 a throw, they would have brought in about $450,000 but rang up closer to $169,000.

Obviously, something isn’t working. It raises the question of whether paid parking is worth it. Imperial Parking, the contracted enforcer, understandably defends paid parking, and so does Interior Health. Their rationale, though, is based on false logic.

They say parking fees are necessary to help pay for the health care system. If not for the fees, they contend, it couldn’t afford a lot of much needed equipment. That sounds reasonable but it actually injects a user-pay system into our health care.

Using their rationale, they could say we should pay for things like blood tests because we need money to do them. If we wanted a healthcare system like they have in the U.S. we could do that.

But we don’t. In Canada, we believe everyone has a right to healthcare including access to hospitals. Parking is how we get access. The issue comes down to whether stressed out patients and their families should pay for parking, or whether everybody should help with the cost.

Many places have opted for the latter, and there’s nothing stopping it from happening here.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (7717 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca 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 ArmchairMayor.ca 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.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – And another thing about parking at RIH – it should be free

  1. Don Drysdale // January 31, 2020 at 8:45 AM // Reply

    A hospital should be accessible and that means parking because it is not feasible for many sick or invalid people to take public transit. It is part of the whole health care system. RIH has one of the worst accessiblity issues I have seen. Part of the problem is being built on a hill with a very small footprint and yet you continue to expand but never include accessible parking.

  2. The biggest issue with hospital parking is not necessarily paying for parking but having to take several turns around the parkade because a large percentage of the parking is taken up by staff from the hospital and other businesses around the hospital. While the hospital denies this, it is pretty obvious when we see staff members standing, waiting their turn at the pay dispensers or folks paying for their parking then wandering over to the courthouse or to the medical buildings across the street. I find it odd that when the staff was not allowed to park in the old parkade that there seemed to be enough spots for the patients. It was patroled so it was mostly patients although I did see a member of the porter staff getting into their car at the end of their shift. Maybe use the money for parking to put in a staff only parkade so the rest of us can make to our appointments on time.

  3. Philosophically speaking parking should not be free because it encourages global warming and noise and air pollution caused by the excessive use of “personal transportation devices.” Advocate for better transit and alternate forms of transportation, which, the long way around, would also lessen the need to visit the hospital for a lot of people.

  4. Well, and firmly, said.

    I would extend the argument even further to include all public facilities, and their associated parking areas, which we have already paid for, with our taxes. Why should citizens, who have paid for, and are therefore the true owners of, public facilities, such as hospitals, courthouses or parks be required to pay to use them?

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