‘Hospital should meet with neighbours’

Street parking still an issue with neighbours and staff of Ridge Meadows Hospital.

Jim Bird feels like the vandalism on cars around the hospital might have less to do with angry neighbours and more to do with plain old vandalism.

Jim Bird wants to get the message to hospital staff and visitors: you’re welcome to park your vehicles outside his house on 117th Avenue.

He won’t key your car, nor slash your tires, and neither will the neighbours who live along the busy road that leads to Ridge Meadows Hospital.

“I don’t care, really,” Bird says of people who park outside his house.

He was commenting following Mason Schille’s recent experience after parking on the street. Two of the tires on his 2013 Mitsubishi were slashed, while days later, the side of his car was keyed, requiring new paint.

Schille is an X-ray technician at the hospital and parks on the street because of a shortage of staff parking at the hospital. He says vehicle vandalism is common plight for hospital employees.

Bird, though, says the vandalism may be more a result of the nature of the neighbourhood and the fact that 117th Avenue is a through street.

“The idea of parking in front of the house isn’t the issue. We live in a community, it’s getting busier,” he said.

“It’s really busy. We’ve got all walks of life down here, from doctors with stethoscopes, right down to guys on BMXs cruising through.”

Bird has also had his fair share of vehicle damage after living there for more than 30 years.

“Every vehicle I’ve had has been keyed.”

Over the years, every one of his vehicles has been broken into.

He’s had windshield wipers and antennas bent, eggs smashed on to the paint, and the roof on his daughter’s convertible slashed.

Last year, the catalytic converter was stolen from his vehicle.

His son’s Toyota was stolen from in front of his house.

“I know that happens to a lot of people around here,” Bird said.

“Still, there could be somebody on the street who’s mad. Someone could be really frustrated with the noise or the parking. I don’t know.”

He suggested that Ridge Meadows Hospital host a meeting with residents to discuss the issue.

Fraser Health spokesperson Tasleem Juma said the health authority is in the process of adding 113 more staff stalls.

While that will take some time, the hospital is currently adding 42 stalls, by providing more public parking around the entrances, then adding more employee parking stalls to the public lots.

Currently, there are 457 parking stalls at Ridge Meadows Hospital, with 35 per cent of those allotted to public pay parking and 65 per cent for employee parking.

Determining how much of a shortfall there is for staff is difficult because many employees work at different hospitals or shifts.

Parking is an ongoing concern and the hospital wants to work with the city and the neighbours, Juma added.

Employees who park in the public spaces can also get a discount, she added.

Bird expressed the same concerns two years ago in a letter to the hospital. He doesn’t favour resident-only parking because that also inconveniences visitors to his home.

“In the morning, there is the constant beeping of car alarms being set, he said.

“It is not that unusual for someone to return to their car two or three times, as they forget something … with the resulting reset to their alarm.”

So just some common sense and courtesy from all motorists, hospital visitors and staff and patients would go a long a way.

“Basically, I live in the Ridge Meadows Hospital parking lot.”

A limit on the chatter that co-workers have when they arrive and leave from work would help, also.

If he had one request – turning off the beeping door locks that sound when people lock their vehicles with remote keys would make a big difference.

“You can lock your car without doing that.”

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