Ridge Meadows Hospital parking issue rears again

Employee has car vandalized twice in a week, but more parking on its way

Mason Schille drops his car off at a body shop to have the paint repaired after vandals scratched the door panel while it was parked on 117th Avenue

Put in a long shift at Ridge Meadows Hospital and, at the end of it, all you want to do is crawl into your vehicle and drive home.

But twice in the past week X-ray technologist Mason Schille has had car trouble – first having his tires slashed, then having his car keyed.

The vandalism to his 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer occurred when the car was parked on 117th Avenue, just across Laity Street from the hospital.

Schille says it could be just random vandalism, or that from neighbours angry about cars parking on their streets – the source of endless complaints for years.

Two of the car’s Yokohama tires were ruined on Sunday, Feb. 15.

“I had just finished and I was walking to my car at midnight and noticed my passenger front tire was flat … and then I looked and the back one was flat. I wasn’t going anywhere.”

Then Friday, someone keyed one side of his car. That requires a re-paint job, which he took care of Monday.

Schille said police told him the same thing happened to a nurse’s car recently. And previously, some hospital employees have had motor oil poured on to their windshields. “That’s happened on the same street.”

He said the nurses’ union has written to residents, asking them not to vandalize employees’ cars.

“I parked there for three years … nothing’s happened until the last week.”

Schille said he doesn’t have a parking pass, which would allow him to park in the hospital staff lot, because it’s always full anyways.

“If you’re working a shift from 9 a.m. or 11 a.m., it’s really hard to find parking.

“You have to get there at 7:30 in the morning and fight for a parking spot.”

He could park in the public area of the parking lot, and pay a daily rate of $8.25 or $5.25 for evenings and weekends.

However, Schille says he’ll now apply for an employee parking pass which costs $22 a month.

Pay parking for the public at the hospital has been an ongoing issue for the last few years, with some wanting the fees removed.

Maple Ridge council, in 2013, wrote a letter to the health minister acknowledging that parking fees cause some financial hardship and asking that signs point out that long-term rates are available.

Schille said the parking crunch has existed since he started working at the hospital.

Some of the streets in the area have resident-only parking, but 117th Ave. has signs requiring that vehicles don’t block driveways and leave three metres of space from the ends of driveways.

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, 42 of those are being added soon 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.

But determining how much of a shortfall there is for staff is difficult because many employees work at different hospitals or work shift work.

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.

 

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