Impark manages Ridge Meadows Hospital parking lot.                                 (THE NEWS/files)

Impark manages Ridge Meadows Hospital parking lot. (THE NEWS/files)

Hospital pay parking has a new opponent

Maple Ridge’s longtime lobbyist angry over new Impark deal

Impark has signed a new $14.5-million contract to run pay parking at Lower Mainland hospitals, in addition to keeping all of the parking fine revenue.

Jon Buss, an inventor and businessman, has founded a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating paid hospital parking in the province, and is the latest loud voice in what has been a long fight.

He started hospitalpayparking.ca and wrote last week about the new five-year contract between the Provincial Health Services Authority and parking lot operator Impark.

It started on Jan. 1. The company will manage parking lots at 40 hospitals – including Maple Ridge – collecting $14.5 million in fees for iteself, as well as violation revenue, which is $80 per ticket.

The health authorities, including Fraser Health, will receive a share of the parking revenue from the rate of $3.50 per hour.

Pay parking revenues in Fraser Health hospitals totaled $14.9 million of its $3.5-billion budget.

Buss said he has reviewed many complaints about the hospital parking issue across the country, but nothing is changing.

“Nothing has been done, and the rates are growing at four times the rate of inflation,” he said. “We need to get the people who can make reform happen at the table.”

Buss wants to connect cities in the Lower Mainland with local MLAs and find ways to replace the revenue being earned by hospital parking for health authorities. That would allow them to make parking free. He advocates having cities manage hospital parking.

Russ Curnew has been lobbying for free parking at Ridge Meadows Hospital since December 2012, when his former band, the RX Rockers, all were hit with $60 parking tickets while playing a free concert for the residents of the Baillie House residential care facility at the site.

“I was very disappointed when the government gave Impark a new five-year contract,” said Curnew, who continues to push the issue. “I’m still saying this is not right, and we need to get something done.”

He has lobbied the City of Maple Ridge to change its bylaws, has written premier John Horgan, and most recently tried to get commitments from local politicians before the last election to take up this fight. He said many were willing before they got elected.

“I told them, ‘I’m going to hold you to it.’”

He believes Buss is on the right track bringing cities into the issue, and plans to get in touch with Buss as a potential new ally.

The common narrative Buss has heard is that a family member becomes seriously ill and requires a long hospital stay, and their loved ones face a constant hassle of running out to feed metres, not making it on time and paying for tickets, and generally are inconvenienced and taxed at the worst possible time.

For many, the parking fees are lumped into bad memories of the illness of a loved one.

“People bury this parking experience with the bad memories of the medical experience,” he said.

He has spoken to Fraser Health and other such authorities, who say they cannot cut their funding without the approval of the Health Ministry. The provincial government says hospital parking is under the purview of the health authorities.

“So we have a stalemate by convenience.”

Health Minister Adrian Dix offered a statement about hospital parking in the province:

“We know that pay parking revenue has increased dramatically over the past 15 years under the previous government, by $25 million, 130 percent more compared to pay parking revenue in 2005/06.

“And I hear the concern about pay parking at hospitals everywhere I go in B.C. – whether it’s Surrey or Campbell River or Prince George. I have also met with different individuals and groups regarding it. Reducing this burden that has grown over the past number of years is one of the issues I am looking at as minister,” said Dix.

“One action that we have taken is that pay parking is not being expanded to new sites. Currently we are systematically reviewing issues around parking across the system.

He added that if people need relief now from these costs, most hospitals have a hardship process to waive or subsidize fees where it poses a genuine challenge to patients and families, and most sites have a variety of pay options to accommodate different types of patient visits, including daily, weekly and extended stay rates.

Buss said the take from hospital parking province-wide is $34 million, and is a relatively small amount of the provincial budget to replace.

Impark keeps 100 per cent of the violation ticket revenue, which Buss says is a powerful motivator to write as many tickets as possible.

“I would be all over it – I’m a business guy,” he said. “People like me should not be invited to operate at hospitals.”

He thinks B.C. health authorities have become addicted to the revenue hospital pay parking generates.

“This is a problem many British Columbians are learning about the hard way at a time when they are at their lowest, weakest and often sickest,” he said in a release.

“The two health authorities party to this agreement collected nearly $20M in net parking revenue last year and it’s an income source they regard as safe and secure. Meanwhile, parking costs for patients have risen province-wide by an average of nine per cent annually since 2015. The potential revenue from violation notices is currently unknown, but likely amounts to a significant pile of cash.”

Buss said he has asked for those figures – Impark’s violation receipts, through freedom of information.

Buss’ group can be reached through HospitalPayParking.ca.

– with files from Ashley Wadhwani

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

Just Posted

About 150 guests attended the 16th annual Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards. (The News files)
Parker Kaumi, 6, and his mother, Lauren, baked cookies to raise money for the Canucks Autism Network. (Chris Kaumi/Special to The News)
Maple Ridge mother and son bake cookies for Canucks Autism Network

Raise $1,200 for the organization that offers activities and programs to children and youth with autism

If you have a letter you’d like to submit to the editor for consideration, please email us at <a href="mailto:editor@mapleridgenews.com"><strong>editor@mapleridgenews.com</strong></a>. Look forward to hearing your thoughts.
LETTER: ‘Maybe it’s time for a long second look’

Good news and more bad news on the Site C project and billions being spent to make it happen

Food For The Soul is offering support for the homeless population from its store on the Lougheed Highway in downtown Maple Ridge. (The News files)
LETTER: Maple Ridge’s Food For The Soul Project doing great work

Society working with homeless population in the community

The Writing Home free creative writing workshops will run for eight weeks beginning Jan. 29. (Special to The News)
Creative writing workshops for immigrant women this month

Writing Home is for newcomers to Canada living in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Photo by Kevin Hill)
40 cases linked to Surrey Memorial Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

Fraser Health says two death are associated with the outbreak

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
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

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Most Read