Robert’s column

Robert’s column

Robert Barron column: New hospital shouldn’t charge for parking

Paying a parking meter is the last thing people visiting a hospital should have to worry about.

In all the times I’ve had to visit the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital over the years, either for work or for personal reasons, I refused to pay for parking.

I would drive up and down the side streets surrounding the hospital, which were always lined with parked cars belonging to like-minded people, looking for a rare open spot and it would often take a long time to find one.

But it was a matter of principle for me and I was determined not to pay for the ability to park closer to the hospital in one of its lots.

Like many others, I’ve always had a problem with hospitals demanding payment from its visitors just for the right to park on their property.

It’s not like you’re going to a ball game, a movie, or some other type of recreation when you head to the hospital.

A lot of times, it’s because either you, a family member or someone else you know needs medical attention, so people are often tasked to take the ailing person to the hospital to receive it, or are heading there to be by the side of loved ones in a time of need.

It should not be a time for searching your pockets, some times in vain, for change or a credit card to feed a parking meter.

It’s a time-consuming distraction that could have dire consequences for the person that needs to get medical attention and, for many, it’s an expense they can ill afford but are forced to pay anyway to get their sick loved ones inside the facility.

And then when the patients are in their hospital beds and their family and friends are by their sides, they are forced to leave every few hours to feed the parking meter and take the chance of getting an expensive ticket if they lose track of time, which many do in these circumstances.

It’s really a form of extortion that those accountants and hospital administrators that make the decisions to have pay parking at their facilities know people will have to pay.

They always claim they need the revenue to help pay for the many costs that hospitals have, but I’m sure that other funding sources could be creatively tapped to take this onerous burden off the hospital visitors.

We’ve been blessed to have a hospital in the Cowichan Valley that doesn’t have pay parking, and hasn’t for a very long time, but there’s no guarantee that the new $887-million Cowichan District Hospital that will soon be constructed on Bell McKinnon Road will follow suit.

There will be about 800 parking spots at the new hospital, about double the number of spaces at the current one on Gibbins Road, but Island Health, which is building the hospital, has yet to say whether it intends to have pay parking at the facility when it’s completed in 2026.

But during a 2019 interview I had with Al Siebring, mayor of North Cowichan where the new hospital will be located, he gave me some hope that Island Health will be challenged if they try to introduce pay parking.

He told me at the time that a hospital is a place where people go because they are sick, and they should not have to pay for parking there.

Siebring said that during the construction of the new hospital in Campbell River, that community’s city council passed resolutions to abolish pay parking at their new health facility and other public lands within the city’s boundaries.

Despite original plans by Island Health to have pay parking at the Campbell River hospital, the health authority eventually buckled to public pressure and announced it would not be charging the public, staff, volunteers or physicians for parking at the hospital either.

“I intend to put this to North Cowichan’s council if Island Health does plan to have pay parking at the new Cowichan District Hospital,” Siebring said at the time.

“We had the same discussions when the new Vancouver Island University campus was being constructed in the Valley [in 2011] while I was chairman of the Island Savings Centre Commission. VIU intended to have pay parking on campus, which would have pushed all that parking onto the Island Savings Centre. In the end, they were forced to back down.”

That’s the attitude all our politicians in the Valley from the various levels of government should take towards any idea of having pay parking at the new hospital.

Paying a parking meter is the last thing people visiting a hospital should have to worry about.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The organizers of the annual 39 days of July festival hope to return to live shows in Charles Hoey Park this year, like in this photo taken in 2019, but audiences at the show may be limited to 50 people due to health protocols. (File photo)
39 Days of July hoping for outdoor events in Duncan this summer

Annual music festival will run from June 25 to Aug. 2 this year

Cowichan Valley WildSafeBC coordinator Amanda Crowston teaches a Grade 5/6 class at Ecole Cobble Hill last fall. (Submitted)
The bears are back in town and so is WildSafeBC

The bears are back in town so keep an eye out, reminds… Continue reading

Oak Bay resident Hugh Thompson died Friday, May 7. (GoFundMe photo)
Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake

Community rallies around family with online fundraiser

The Regional District of Nanaimo has its sights set on busing to the Cowichan Valley in time for March 2022. (News Bulletin file)
Bus link between Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley expected by next March

Unallocated transit hours already in Regional District of Nanaimo budget

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old bike rider on Vancouver Island already attracting cycle sponsors

Nanaimo’s Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

A scene from the Schoolhouse Squat from October 2018, where Alliance Against Displacement members and supporters occupied the Rutherford Elementary School site, advocating for people experiencing homelessness. (News Bulletin file)
‘Schoolhouse Squat’ activists get conditional discharge in Nanaimo school occupation

Ivan Donald Drury, Tingchun (Listen) Chen sentenced in provincial court in Nanaimo

Most Read