LETTER – What’s the answer to parking for RIH health care workers?

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

Today I pulled up to work and saw the big “thank you health care heros” sign on the front lawn of RIH. Today I was running behind schedule and it was snowing so I parked in the public parkade.

I went throughout my day. I donned and doughed my PPE all day. I missed a break because it was a busy day and we were short staffed. I did a good job and left work with knowing my patients were well taken care of.

Leaving work I was glad that I had parked in the parkade as it was pitch black and snowing hard. I was glad that I didn’t have to park 20 minutes away and walk alone in the dark to my vehicle.

After a long 12 hour shift I returned to my car to find the dreaded blue ticket on my windshield. The ticket that means you will have to pay a fine as well as have repercussions with HR. The blue ticket that makes me wonder how far the public’s gratitude for doing an already hard job under even greater distress and danger to nurses and all medical staff.

Now, I know that parking at RIH has always been a hot topic with the public and the staff alike. Never enough spots, always impossible to find a space. I know that many people in the public get angry when staff members park in the parkade, and we get that.

What I want to know is where we, the ones taking care of your loved ones, are meant to park? We get threatening letters from management along with a bus schedule and impark lots. The bus is out of the question, as nurses don’t have 9 to 5 jobs.

We work wonky, long hours. Doing my due diligence I called Impark and the employee actually laughed when I asked if there was room for a monthly pass somewhere close to the hospital. The lots I was given are an even further walk to work than it is to park at the first available all day street parking.

This “solution” is dangerous. We have had staff followed, and even mugged walking back to their vehicles after a shift in the dark. We have had our vehicles broken into. So, public, I ask you: Are you given a safe place to park in order to go to your job?

I write this letter, not to complain, as complaining is easy but does not solve the problem. I am writing this seeking solutions. What is the solution? Going on like this is not safe for the employees or fair to the public. So let’s hear your suggestions Kamloops! Our city is so good at coming to together when needed, so this is our SOS.


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31 Comments on LETTER – What’s the answer to parking for RIH health care workers?

  1. I’ve read many comments -very concerning that new builds did not plan for adequate parking and also staff should not pay for parking.

    Other jurisdictions provide free parking at hospitals and in some cases even provide FREE valet parking to patients/visitors -no tipping allowed !

    So why is that addressed in the budget /planning process? Seriously who is in charge? The last thing we need now is to continue stressing out understaffed workers !

    That’s another issue why are we so understaffed everywhere north of the lower mainland ? Again who is managing these issues and why are they never resolved? This has been going on for decades ?

  2. Doug Tereposky // November 25, 2020 at 8:14 PM // Reply

    The Unions could sit down with the Hospital negotiators and do a Letter of Agreement re parking at RIH for the employees. Find a location where the people can park free and have a bus(s) picking them up before shifts and dropping them off after shifts.
    “If you are not part of the solution you become part of the problem”

    Lil Tereposky

  3. Well the Bus is not an option for the nurses like myself and others coming from Pritchard, Chase, and Sorrento areas (not to mention the out-lying residences to the West of Kamloops too!). I agree patients and family members need parking as well…so we need more space for parking. A lot of money has gone into the new Tower which is great but some resources need to be put toward proper parking infrastructure and safety measures to protect those that are the heartbeat of the hospital!!! Parking and walking during daylight hours is okay…but many of us are walking late at night (after midnight for casual nurses and recovery room nurses for example). This is not okay. When one of your nurses becomes a patient themselves from being attacked you should be ashamed and something MUST be done before that happens!!!!

  4. Troy Duperreault // November 25, 2020 at 5:30 AM // Reply

    The thing to remember is there is a shortage of nurses and if you can’t provide a safe place for them to park how long before they leave and go to a place that does? Doesn’t EVERYONE deserve to go to work n come home safe each day?
    This isn’t between patients and nurses this is on our politicians and city council for fix and we all need to be putting the pressure on them to fix it. Write letters go to council meetings call them out publicly to shed some light on this. The frontline workers need to be recognized and taken care of!

  5. Tammy Bailey // November 24, 2020 at 9:13 PM // Reply

    It is appalling out government has not the fore sight to create a safe work place where our health care providers can not come and go to work in a safe space and park their cars and feel safe. Yet, the nurses are expected to provide care around the clock for ALL our loved ones and to do their best to keep them safe and well! Why are we not keeping our health care workers safe?!?

  6. Create a job and offer a shuttle service? I agree the current situation was never acceptable, but even more so in current times. Wish I had an insto-solution or thank you’s fixed it.

  7. Don’t they have an entire parkade dedicated to staff? (The old parkade?)

    • There is a 2yr+ wait list to get a spot in that parkade. Some are lucky enough to be able to, but the vast majority of staff cannot park there.

    • Used by physicians, renal patients and administration staff. There are a select few nurses who have passes to park there but the wait list is over 5 years wait.

    • Yes. I have been on a waitlist for 3yrs and still waiting.

    • When a staff member actually gets a “parking spot” after years of waiting, it is usually for Peterson Creek. Which is still a very long way from the hospital. And the path to Peterson Creek is very poorly lit and dangerous to walk in the winter.

  8. For interest sake, I thought I’d look up about catching the bus to work.
    If I start at 7:30am on a weekday, I need to LEAVE my house around 5:55am and walk anywhere from 33-50 minutes to catch the correct busses!
    Weekends do NOT even have an option to get me to work anywhere close to ontime 😣
    These are NOT a realistic options!!
    **PS….it’s less than a 10 minute drive**

    • Kari: The bus system is designed and managed by people who never take the bus! Despite all the fanfare and the social media niceties the bus system (as well as walkability/cyclability) is at the stone age level in Kamloops. It is done on purpose. Write a line to city council because the more they hear about the less the excuses.

  9. Tonight walking to my car at 11:00pm when I got off shift, I was approached by a man with a hockey stick and puck. He proceeded to take aim and shoot the puck at me. He was talking to himself and jerking all around while laughing. I had to cross the street then cross it back to get to my car which is parked in a low lit spot. Sometimes we have coworkers to walk with but sometimes we’re alone. I have also been ticketed for parking in the parkade after working a double shift when we were seven people short staffed. I recieved this ticket March 2020. While the town is banging their pots and pans for us, we’re getting ticketed and even towed.

  10. Colleen Smith // November 23, 2020 at 5:21 PM // Reply

    How dare you to put our first responders in danger. What are you guarding an empty parking lot for? Why can’t you designate one parking floor for staff? Do you lack any responsibility? Are you going to wait till someone gets hurt? Then we should sue!

  11. And since administrators and other clerical staff does not work night shift their parking slots should automatically be available for any staff working nights. From what it occasionally transpires in the public realm, it really seems RIH and IH are under some pretty interesting management to say the least.

  12. This an absolute joke. Their union heads should be ashamed of themselves. The nurses are some of the hardest working people in our city. But also the most overworked and under treated. I bet management doesn’t walk to their cars 20 mins away in the dark???

  13. Andrea Berseth // November 23, 2020 at 2:36 PM // Reply

    When I worked as an RN in Calgary, we had the shuttle system to an offsite lot and it worked very well. I paid a fee, but I don’t recall it being very much. What is the big lot below BCLC used for? I support an offsite lot for RIH staff!

  14. Lori Robinson // November 23, 2020 at 2:03 PM // Reply

    Copy of letter sent to Interior Health:
    I am very concerned about the safety and care of the RIH staff. The letter posted at
    regarding the staff access to parking has me bewildered that the people we depend upon to keep us safe and well are not being treated appropriately.
    Please provide staff with safe parking, easy access to their vehicles, especially after dark, and ensure that they can park close to the hospital. I think, as a gesture of support for our front line workers who are sacrificing so much during this pandemic, all fines need to be forgiven, and the practice of parking infractions being reported to HR needs to be stopped immediately.
    L. Robinson
    Merritt BC
    RIH patient May 2020 (level of care received BTW – absolutely excellent)

    • Excellent point. As the mother and mother in law of 2 kamloops nurses, who put in long extra hours and are ALWAYS short staffed, I agree with you. Make it happen! No one should have to return to a scary place or a ticket, after a long shift. Shame on the administrators and the city. When we saw the new parking lot put in, we hoped that would fix things. But it was never about the nurses, was it?

  15. I find it crazy that this problem has not been solved. This is a safety issue as much as it is convenience. My daughter is a nurse working shifts there. I do not want to get a message one day that she has been mugged or worse, going to and from her workplace!! Shame on you City Councillors not caring about the welfare of your much needed health care workers!!! 😡

  16. Leverne Borton // November 23, 2020 at 1:17 PM // Reply

    Several years ago there was a solution suggested. Simply that a shuttle be used to drive RIH employees to RIH specific parking lots around town. The shuttle(s) could run continuously at shift change and for the rest of the time, RIH security could escort staff. Parking areas away from the city core could be used. As a senior with current mobility issues, I dread hospital appointments. There has to be an easy solution. Staff should not be put in danger nor should they be required to walk, often uphill, after a 12 hour shift.

  17. Don’t forget that the new RIH took parking away from majority of the care facility beside it, leaving those staff as well to walk or get a ride from security ( who is not there for all shifts)

  18. Obviously enough parking for all staff during any given time (not just highest seniority staff) but in the meantime as that would take years to approve and build an interim solution is needed.

    I suggest an offsite 3rd party or provincially owned lots or lots with a shuttle service. Lots would need to be within 5 mins of the hospital.

    Things to consider:
    1. It would need to be large or be multiple smaller ones
    2. It would need to accommodate the max possible number of staff at any given time.
    3. The max number would need to factor in that many positions are required to overlap 15-20 mins so that patient updates can be passed to incoming staff plus the time to get from work station to their car. Yes that would mean empty spots for much of the day but it’s just reality.
    4. Wait time for the next shuttle must be a max of 5 mins.
    5. If multiple lots are used an app with up to the second availability so staff know which lot to drive to as they can’t be circling around to 5 different lots looking for that 1 remaining spot.
    6. Maybe a reservation option only bookable an hour before intended use. I’m sure many would pay $1 extra for peace of mind and it’s not price gouging.
    7. Excellent lighting for safety.


    • Mark Andrews // November 23, 2020 at 2:17 PM // Reply

      They aren’t asking for free as few downtown employees in any city have to pay for parking. They just want parking they are allowed to PAY for close to their place of employment.

  20. Free taxi rides to & from work,escorted shuttle to the park lot 2 ks away. Crazy they shd be able to park in the parade. No one wants to walk in the dark on a unlit,unmanned parking lot after a long hard shift!

  21. How about blocking off one level of the parade for employees.

  22. How are the rest of the very many employees (also shift workers hence not working 9 to 5) at RIH coping with this problem? What solution has the powerful union proposed thus far?
    While searching for practical answers, a heartfelt thank you to you and all the staff for the high standard of care and dedication to the health and well-being of our community.

    • Mark Andrews // November 23, 2020 at 2:12 PM // Reply

      Their union is really not as powerful as you may think as they will be fired if they complain publicly about any challenge or issue (vs almost daily public complaints by teachers unions). Imagine if you could be fired if you made a Facebook post simply saying “you had a tough day at work” let alone get the media to issue a story that you feel unsafe at work. Also let’s be honest the public cares less about an industry that takes care of the drunks, drug users and elderly than say our children – less public care means a weaker bargaining standpoint.

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