A glut of Lions Gate Hospital employees parking on surrounding residential streets to avoid parking fees has the City of North Vancouver looking at changing who can park where and how much it will cost them.
Council voted to send a number of ideas to an upcoming policy committee meeting including:
? cutting back on the resident-exempt parking on nearby streets that have low demand for parking;
? creating temporary visitor parking permits for out-of-town guests and transferable medical-need permits;
? installing pay parking on the 200-block of 15th Street and the 1300-and 1400-blocks of St. Andrews Avenue; and
? creating more resident permit-only parking on high occupancy streets with higher fees for residents.
"I'm looking for a rather lively policy committee meeting just based on the feedback I get from residents in the central Lonsdale/Lions Gate Hospital area," said Coun. Rod Clark at Monday's council meeting.
"Right down to Keith Road, there are people complaining to me that their street parking is taken up during the day by Lions Gate Hospital employees."
But the ideas are earning a quick rebuke from some neighbours who want to "park unharassed in front of their homes" without being charged for it.
"Our street . . . has gone from a quiet, pleasant area to an employee parking lot with cars jockeying for position in early mornings with incumbent noise, traffic and inconvenience," said Glenys Stuart, a 12th Street resident, at the Nov. 26 council meeting. "How can you justify charging residents to park when the problem is brought on by employees of the hospital?"
Other neighbours from the street noted that the city will just push the Lions Gate employees to park their cars in the next closest block of free parking, which will bring a new batch of complaints.
Lions Gate staff pay $5.75 per day or $32.52 per payroll deduction to park at the hospital. Visitor parking is $2 per half hour or $15 for 24 hours.
Clark said any study of new parking options should include information on why Delta Hospital provides free parking for guests and staff and why the same couldn't be done here.
But the Fraser Health Authority, which oversees parking for all hospitals in the region, is looking to put an end to that, according to Nafisa Abdulla, public affairs consultant for Fraser Health.
"Fraser Health has proposed a pay-parking management program to the Delta municipal council and they continue to resist the introduction of pay parking at Delta," she said.
"One point (council) made was that if we did charge for parking at Delta Hospital, people would start to park in the community, at city hall and the rec centre which are near the hospital."
It costs $45,000 per year to maintain Lions Gate Hospital parking infrastructure and the fees go to offset that cost. Extra revenue goes into patient care Abdulla said. Fraser Health also needs to put a price on parking to control how it gets used, she added.
"Parking space is at a premium at health care sites and rates are intended to encourage stall rotation to ensure patients have access to parking at all times," she said in an email. "Paid parking at hospital parking facilities also discourages customers and employees of surrounding businesses from parking at our sites. Our facilities would have significant non-hospital related parkers if we did not charge competitive rates."
Hospital rates are generally lower than market rates, she added.
But there may be some relief for those drivers who aren't keen on paying to park while they work as Fraser Health is evaluating how it can fluctuate its rates to better suit staff and employees.
"We are exploring a number of rate flexibility options for both employees and public parking at Lions Gate Hospital in light of the rescission of the HST scheduled for April 2013," Abdulla said.