Surrey city councillor Mandeep Nagra says the city will be asking Fraser Health to remove pay parking at Surrey Memorial Hospital in line with its decision to make parking free on neighbouring city streets.
The city has already removed pay parking on its streets around the hospital, and to some extent at city hall, pre-empting a corporate report council is expected to vote on Monday night that that recommends it approve two-hour free parking at the city hall parkade and on-street parking surrounding Surrey Memorial Hospital.
“The parking at city hall, we have two hour complimentary parking there already, and again, all the streets around the hospital, two hour complimentary parking. Around the hospital and city hall,” Nagra told the Now-Leader on Thursday.
Surrey Councillor Mandeep Nagra. (Photo submitted)
“So if you want to go to the hospital with your loved one, loved ones, it’s free. That’s what we promised and that’s what we delivered, it’s already done. And we will be talking to Fraser Health to remove the parking metres inside the hospital, as well as those underground parking.”
“We listen to people, you know,” Nagra said. “This is what they want and this is what we should be doing for them, right, we’re just messengers for them, what they want, and we’ll get it done.”
Still, the number of parking spaces that until recently you had to pay for on city streets near SMH is a drop in the bucket compared to the number pay parking spots controlled by Fraser Health.
The city operates 103 on-street pay parking spots in the immediate vicinity of SMH while Fraser Health or private companies operate 2,041 off-street parking spaces. It costs $4.25 for the first hour of parking at one of SMH’s 1,790 stalls and $3.50 per additional hour. If you’re parking in one of the Surrey Medical Arts Building lot’s 87 stalls, you’ll pay $3 for the first hour and $2.50 for each additional hour. Parking in one of Surrey Health Sciences lot’s 185 stalls will cost you $2.50 per hour, and SMH has 43 Creekside lot stall that cost $3.75 for the first hour ad $3.25 for each additional hour.s
The 10-page corporate report, penned by Fraser Smith, the city’s general manager of engineering, indicates that council’s commitment to free parking will reduce annual pay parking revenues at the city hall parkade by about $490,000 annually, and annual pay parking revenue from on-street parking around SMH will be reduced by an estimated $360,000. Together, that’s $850,000. “Metered on-street parking generates approximately $880,000 in annual revenue for the City of Surrey,” Smith noted.
City wide, Surrey has 947 metered street parking spaces, mostly in the city centre, around SMH and the four SkyTrain stations and these generate revenue to support parking management and “other transportation programs in the city,” Smith reports.
During the election campaign, Mayor Doug McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition promised to eliminate pay parking metres on the streets around Surrey Memorial Hospital and in the underground parking lot at city hall.
McCallum said during the election campaign that people complain about having to pay for parking when they visit Surrey Memorial Hospital.
“When you go there you’re under stress or tension because you’re going to visit loved ones or members of your family that is sick and the last thing you need to do is to reach into your pocket and try to find some money to do a parking metre,” He told the Now-Leader prior to the election.
As for city hall, he said at the time, “I’ve always believed that’s sort of the people’s house. It’s not council’s, it’s not the mayor’s. It’s the people’s house and why would you ever want to have pay parking if you’re going to your own house sort-of-thing. If you’re going to city hall to get permits or to pay your taxes, you shouldn’t have to do it and so we’re going to offer free parking at city hall.”
That promise has been kept, at least in part. A sign at city hall reads “Complimentary Parking For City Hall Visitors” with a two-hour maximum Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with vehicle registration required in the atrium. However, visitors parking outside those hours must still pay an evening flat rate of $3 all days and a $4 flat rate on Saturday and Sunday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
McCallum said the reasoning for the two-hour restriction is because city hall is near a SkyTrain station.
“If we didn’t put just two hours on it then people would park there all day and take the SkyTrain downtown. We want the parking for people that go in to the city hall,” he said.
McCallum also said he and staff feel people can get their business done at city hall within two hours. However, he said, if people take longer than two hours, then they would have to go back down to the parkade and “move (their) car into another spot somewhere else and do two hours again in that spot.”
Meantime, the corporate report suggests that the two-hour time limit on parking “will discourage workers and other non-visitors from parking in these spaces, thereby maximizing the chances of visitors finding an available parking space.”
Smith notes that the three-level city hall parkade, with 827 parking spaces, was constructed under the Build Surrey Program, was intended to provide parking not only for city hall but the city centre library, and 3 Civic Plaza which includes the Civic Hotel and Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
“The parking utility expenditures include debt repayment for the city hall parkade, parking management, parking enforcement, and capital, maintenance and replacement costs for all parking infrastructure,” Smith reports. “Introducing free parking at any existing pay parking locations will reduce the funding available for these expenses.”