Nearly 20,000 violation tickets were issued at Interior Health hospital parking lots for the 2018-19 fiscal year. (File photo)

Almost 20,000 parking tickets issued by Interior Health at hospitals in 2019

In 2018, pay parking in Interior Health hospitals totalled $5.3 million of their $2.2-billion budget

While 19,401 tickets were issued to people for parking violations at Interior Health hospitals last year, only 8,068 (41.6 per cent) were actually paid.

Those figures were obtained through a Freedom of Information request for Interior Health documents by Jon Buss of Hospitalpayparking.ca, a non-profit group that opposes what it calls the “exploitative practice” of pay parking at publicly funded hospitals.

“Interior Health does not directly issue parking tickets at these facilities — they are issued by Impark, which is contracted to oversee this service, to ensure that the parking system is fair for all visitors to our sites,” said Craig Paynton, manager of parking services with Interior Health.

“We know that people may be coming to hospitals under challenging circumstances and would encourage anyone who feel they have been ticketed inappropriately to call the number on the ticket to request a review.”

According to the documents, Interior Health’s 2018-19 fiscal year also showed the following in terms of parking violations:5,665 tickets (29.2 per cent) were marked void and waived

5,449 tickets (28.1 per cent) still have an outstanding balance

Interior Health Parking Services towed a total of three staff vehicles (it did not note any visitor vehicles being towed)

The health authority could not provide the total value or revenue of parking tickets distributed stating the “information is not within the control/custody of Interior Health records.”

Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital had the most parking tickets issued at 7,841 (40 per cent)

Kelowna General Hospital was a close second at 7,234 tickets issued (37.3 per cent)

Penticton Regional Hospital had 2,347 tickets issued (12.1 per cent)

Vernon Jubilee Hospital had 1,772 tickets issued (9.1 per cent)

While the revenue generated by paid parking was not released by Interior Health, Paynton said the money directly offsets operational expenses such as security, utilities, snow removal and general maintenance of the lots along with capital improvements.

“If there is genuine financial hardship, hospital social workers will work with the patient and their family to find a solution. Per IH’s paid parking policy, fee exemptions apply to patients and clients with identified extenuating circumstances based on medical or financial hardship and are reviewed on a case by case basis,” he said.

“Free public parking at hospitals runs the risk of people taking up stalls who don’t have business at the hospital.”

According to Hospitalpayparking.ca, in 2018, Interior Health hospitals generated $5.3 million of its $2.2-billion budget through paid parking.

In 2015, that number was $4.1 million, showing a 30 per cent increase.

Across all B.C. health authorities in 2018, paid parking totalled $34.3 million of the total $12.4-billion operating budget.

People with general parking concerns regarding Interior Health facilities can email them to IHParking@interiorhealth.ca.

READ MORE: Hospital pay parking revenue in B.C. topped $36M last fiscal


@michaelrdrguez
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