It's been nearly two years since the province announced free public parking at hospitals to aid those needing a little financial help in accessing services when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
This included Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody — and several Tri-City officials, including mayors Richard Stewart (Coquitlam) and Brad West (Port Coquitlam) had advocated to health minister Adrian Dix to enact free parking at the time under the circumstances.
However, the B.C. government announced today (Jan. 20) that pay parking will be returning March 4 and will apply to members of the public not using the hospital.
Patients, staff and volunteers will be able to use them for free as the change is set to help them access parking spots they need for services, treatments and other related visits.
"Maintaining across-the-board free hospital parking is making it hard for patients, staff, volunteers and visitors to find a spot, as non-hospital users are taking advantage of the situation to park for free while conducting business that's not hospital related," said Dix in a news release.
"These hospital parking spots must be available for those who need them most."
In six weeks, Eagle Ridge Hospital will see the following prices implemented for non-essential visitors:
- $3.50 per hour
- $9.50 per day
- $5.25 evenings only
- $35.25 for one week
- $50.25 for two weeks
- $100.25 for one month
- $70.25 senior rate for one month
These rates will also remain frozen as they have been for more than four years, B.C.'s health ministry explains.
As well, the province says free parking at provincial healthcare facilities will continue for patients receiving dialysis treatment or undergoing cancer treatment in acute care programs, and for parents or caregivers of children staying in the hospital overnight.
The province says volunteers will still be allowed to park for free and financial hardship provisions will continue to be handled on a case-by-case basis by health authorities.
Its statement adds pay-parking stations are being modernized in having as minimal contact as possible as part of efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the current highly transmissible Omicron variant.
Technology is also being installed to allow patients to pay using their smartphone and avoid returning to pay at a meter at any given time.
For more information, you can visit the B.C. government's website.
For details on parking at Eagle Ridge Hospital, you can visit Fraser Health's website.