WIN! Campbell River chapter celebrates City Council vote against hospital parking lot fees

Citizens for Quality Healthcare after they made a presentation to the regional hospital board against paid parking at hospitals, October 2016. Campbell River chapter activist Rich Hagensen is second from the right in the photo.

The Council of Canadians Campbell River chapter has successfully campaigned in support of Zoning Amendment By-law 3651.

The Campbell River Mirror explains, "[City] Council, at its Monday meeting, voted unanimously to adopt a bylaw amendment that prohibits parking fees on any land zoned Public Areas One – a designation that is applied to [the site of a new local hospital]. The decision elicited a round of applause from members of the Campbell River Citizens for Quality Healthcare group who were present in council chambers. The group has been fighting against pay parking since Island Health [the Vancouver Island Health Authority] announced in 2015 its intention to charge for parking at new hospitals in both Campbell River and the Comox Valley."

Chapter activist Rich Hagensen tells us, "When Island Health, supported by the Provincial Ministry of Health, announced that the new Campbell River and Comox Valley hospitals opening in late 2017 would have pay parking, a groundswell of opposition developed on the North Island led by health advocacy groups like Citizens for Quality Health Care North and Council of Canadians."

He highlights, "Rejecting Island Health's rationale for hospital pay parking: that parking revenues were needed for patient care and services, individuals and groups of citizens wrote letters to the media and all levels of government; spoke out at Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital Board meetings, and at the Campbell River City Council meetings and at a public hearing on this bylaw."

Hagensen adds, "The key point that hospital pay parking is an unfair and unacceptable hardship on hospital patients; hospital users' families and friends, and hospital employees resonated with local politicians culminating in the Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital Board passing a resolution not to have hospital pay parking and supporting member municipalities to pass a bylaw to prohibit any type of parking fees at the new North Island Hospitals."

The Campbell River Mirror notes, "[Citizens for Quality Health Care North] even questioned the legality of charging for parking, citing the Canada Health Act which states that the Act exists to '...facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers'. The group claimed that parking fees are a financial barrier and therefore violate the Canada Health Act."

Hagensen concludes, "This is a significant win for all North Vancouver Islanders and we thank the Mayor and City Councillors for doing the right thing and especially for banning pay parking at our new hospital as a growing number of B.C. and Canadian communities have also done. Thanks also go out to the many people who took the time to speak out against hospital pay parking and let us hope that paying for parking at hospitals and community health facilities will soon be a thing of the past!"

Congratulations to all involved in this tremendous win!

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