Maple Ridge looking at free hospital parking

Mayor Ernie Daykin is investigating whether the District of Maple Ridge can pass a bylaw to make hospital parking free

Members of a local band

Members of a local band

Mayor Ernie Daykin is investigating whether the District of Maple Ridge can pass a bylaw to make hospital parking free.

The issue came up after the members of a local band, the Rx Rockers, were all given $60 parking tickets at Baillie House, after doing a charity concert there. They were ticketed despite having parking passes issued by the Fraser Health facility.

Russ Curnew, a band member, forwarded the view that hospital parking should be free here, as it is in Delta and Mission, or a nominal fee be charged with limited enforcement.

The issue has received considerable public attention, and the band has since been the subject of a CBC Television report.

Daykin has had district staff look at bylaws in other municipalities that have free parking at their hospitals, and found their situations differ from that of Maple Ridge.

Delta has a parking bylaw that dates back to the early 1980s.

Fraser Health owns the Ridge Meadows Hospital property, much as a private title holder would. Council could face a legal challenge any time it passes a bylaw that places covenants on a private property, said Daykin.

The appropriate time for the municipality to place any restrictions on the property would have been during development or rezoning.

“We have that ability early in the process,” he explained.

Staff also looked into the situation in Mission, and found that although people do not pay for parking, they do pay a hospital levy on their tax bill.

Daykin noted the parking fees paid at health care facilities in Maple Ridge cover lot maintenance, and some added revenue is put back into the health care system.

“That money has to come from somewhere,” he said.

He added, however, that there are limited sites where there is paid parking in Maple Ridge. People accessing health care facilities will park on nearby residential streets to avoid the fees. This has led to streets near the hospital being designated Maple Ridge’s first residents-only parking.

It has been up to municipal bylaw enforcement officers to uphold those new rules, and the mayor admitted the $10 “sticker fee” residents pay for their parking passes will not cover the cost of enforcement.

Daykin wants to meet with Fraser Health officials in January, saying it is critical they be involved in any decision at this point.

“It’s a project for the new year,” he said. “We’ll do a little bit more work on it and then talk to Fraser Health – none of us should be afraid to review the way we do business.”

• Read letters to the editor from readers who’ve been ticketed by Impark.