Island Health scraps pay parking at new North Island hospitals

Island Health will not be charging the public, staff, volunteers or physicians for parking at the campuses of the North Island Hospital.

Island Health said in a public service announcement released today that many considerations were taken into account as part of the decision including the organization’s patient and family-centred care focus, cost sustainability, and community feedback.

The news was cheered by a longtime advocate against pay parking.

“We are all very happy to see Island Health give this news today,” Citizens for Quality Health Care’s Lois Jarvis said. “(North Island) MLA (and Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure) Claire Trevena and Premier Horgan are keeping their word in providing free access to both our new hospitals for all as they promised during the election campaign to provide free access where there has not been previous hospital pay parking.”

The issue has been a contentious one in Campbell River and the Comox Valley as members of the public have been advocating free parking for some time now. Regional municipal councils have passed resolutions calling for free parking but until now, Island Health had given no indication it was going to heed them.

“They are respecting and upholding the by-laws put in place by both Campbell River and Courtenay councils,” Jarvis said. “Wonderful news!”

Pay parking is currently in place at St. Joseph’s Hospital, but not at Campbell River Hospital. With the development of the North Island Hospital as one hospital across two campuses it was determined that a consistent parking approach should be taken across both campuses of the hospital, Island Health said.

The North Island Hospital Project includes campuses in Campbell River and Courtenay. The 153-bed Comox Valley campus in Courtenay will have an expanded emergency room, surgical care space and University of BC academic teaching space. In Campbell River, the 95-bed campus will include larger single-patient rooms with more private space for patients and their families, a larger emergency department and a bigger maternity ward, with two large birthing rooms to accommodate extended family.

The North Island Hospital’s Campbell River campus is projected to open to patients on Sept. 10 and the Comox Valley campus on Oct. 1.