Kamloops council backs bid to axe ER parking meters

Kamloops council has agreed to write a letter to the Interior Health Authority and forward a petition signed by more than 1,300 people

Kamloops This Week

Kamloops city councillors are throwing their support behind a campaign to change the way parking is handled at the Royal Inland Hospital emergency lot, but Mayor Peter Milobar isn’t optimistic about their chance of success.

Council has agreed to write a letter to the Interior Health Authority and forward a petition signed by more than 1,300 people, asking that parking meters be removed from the emergency-room lot at RIH.

The petition’s creator, Rose Bourdin, told council the current system at the hospital stresses out ER patients and is open to abuse.

“Staff, anybody, can drive into that parking lot, get a day pass for six dollars and stay for the day,” she said.

“Visitors can go in for two hours, visit and take off. This is an emergency parking lot. These aren’t emergencies and they’re getting away with it.”

Bourdin wants the hospital to revert to an earlier system of parking enforcement, when hospital staff handed out parking passes in the ER.

“People have got to start thinking and showing some compassion in this city for people that are stressed out,” she said.

Milobar said he agrees with Bourdin’s stance, but isn’t sure there is anything the city can do to convince the Interior Health Authority to change its parking policies.

“I’ve asked IHA several times to change this and there doesn’t seem to be a change,” he said.

Milobar said the argument he has heard is that the hospital needs the parking-lot revenue — which Milobar guessed might be upwards of $200,000 a year, though no exact figure has been released — to operate.

Coun. Nancy Bepple said that argument doesn’t work for her.

“As much as they may make $200,000 on parking, the Canadian Medical Association has identified parking as a detriment to health care,” she said.

“I don’t see that parking is the way to fund health care. I think there’s other funds, including taxation, for that.”

Coun. Tina Lange asked that a letter also be sent to local MLAs Terry Lake, who is also the provincial health minister, and Todd Stone.

 

She also suggested a compromise — the hospital could charge for parking, but limit it to ER patients who still need to pick up a slip when they arrive at emergency.