Abbotsford Regional Hospital and other B.C. acute-care health facilities are reinstating pay parking as of March 4. (Abbotsford News)

Abbotsford Regional Hospital and other B.C. acute-care health facilities are reinstating pay parking as of March 4. (Abbotsford News)

Public parking charges to return to B.C. hospitals on March 4

Parking lots filled up, patients and visitors couldn’t find any

B.C.’s health ministry removed parking fees from hospital and other regional health authority sites on April 1, 2020, as touch-pad pay systems were considered a hazard in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The parking charges are being reinstated as of March 4, after the health ministry found the free parking abused by those who didn’t need to go to the hospital. Free parking will be continued for patients who receive regular treatments at acute-care facilities, such as kidney dialysis or cancer treatments, the ministry announced Thursday.

“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,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said Jan. 20. “These hospital parking spots must be available for those who need them most.”

During 20 months of free parking, the health authorities gave up $78 million in revenue from the charges, which will be returned to previous rates in March. Rates have been unchanged for four years. Health authorities are putting in touch-free payment options, and a smartphone app will be offered. People eligible for free parking will still be able to use dashboard passes, e-coupons or reimbursement that was previously available at their local hospital.

RELATED: No more special pandemic rules for Northern Health

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@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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