I recall going to the hospital as a child and driving into the parking lot to obtain a ticket from a dispenser.
After your seemingly endless wait to see a doctor and get discharged, you would return to your car and give your ticket to an agent, and a dollar amount would show up based on the amount of parking time you utilized.
Recently, while having to use the hospital emergency room for a medical issue, I found the parking system frustrating and ineffective for the ease of use for those who require the use of the lot.
In the current system, one parks their car in an unpaved, uneven lot and walks to an outdoor non-sheltered ticket stand. You are required to have a credit card or a lot of change for the minimum parking charge of $3.50 per hour at Peace Arch Hospital.
It is almost impossible to predict how long the hospital process will take, and the only place to renew your parking is the ticket stands in the lot.
Then, there are signs in the hospital that if you’re not there when the doctor does come, then you are back at the end of the queue.
I had been going for a series of treatments over several days, and generally I was able to go in and out in 30-40 minutes. On this particular day, while waiting to see the doctor, my time for parking went over by 10 minutes.
Of course, you see where this is going. I find a ticket on my vehicle. What might have cost me $3.50 for a 10-minute overage is now being billed $80 – or $50, should I pay the ticket within two weeks. It was infuriating at the time and has continued to bother me.
The ticket cites this is to cover Impark’s costs. It seems paying a ticket agent to work the booth would be around the same cost as sending around someone to ticket people while they’re receiving medical treatment.
In their current system, it seems profit driven and makes it inconvenient and expensive to users.
If Impark doesn’t want to staff a booth, they could also have more pay stations available in the hospital itself and shorter time options, such as 20-minute time blocks, or – ideally – a system that lets you pay for time used after you have completed your stay.
I have consulted in the legalities of this ticket issued by Impark, as I wanted to take a stand against practices that take advantage of people using an essential service. It is my understanding that I actually owe them $3.50 for time used, which I’ve now sent to Impark.
I have sent copies of this letter to Peace Arch Hospital and MLA Gordon Hogg, as I think they should be aware of the impact that these types of services have on the people who are using them. Since there was no option to dispute these charges, it seems this is the only way to dispute the current system for parking.
Heather Wintermeyer, White Rock