An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
IT WAS ALMOST INEVITABLE that the free parking now in effect at B.C. hospitals would be abused.
It went into effect last Wednesday as a temporary measure during the COVID-19 pandemic and by Friday Health Minister Adrian Dix had to issue a warning there will be enforcement against those who take unfair advantage.
The free parking is intended for patients, visitors and healthcare workers but others see it as an opportunity.
Of particular concern are the Royal Columbian Hospital next to a SkyTrain station in New Westminster and St. Paul’s Hospital in downtown Vancouver.
Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops doesn’t seem to be having the same problem. The parkade there had a plentiful supply of available spots on the weekend.
Maybe it’s because it was the weekend, because visiting is limited and parking downtown is also free but could it also be because there are a lot fewer people in the downtown area right now, some of whom are the kind who routinely “cheat” by using cheap parking at RIH and walking to their jobs or shopping? (The same kind currently causing problems at the Coast.)
That’s been a common complaint about how the parkade is used. Another has been that hospital staff use the public parkade instead of their own or instead of making other arrangements, taking up spots that should be left for patients and visitors.
Well, nobody’s cussing out healthcare workers these days. They’re welcome to park anywhere they want; it’s the least we can do.
Though it comes in the middle of a crisis, the decision to take the fees off hospital parking is a welcome taste of what should be a permanent removal of parking charges at those facilities.
And, in the case of RIH, it would seem to be proof positive that the parking shortage there could be alleviated or even eliminated if only the cheaters could be kept away.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
jMel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.