Royal Inland Hospital leads the way in most parking tickets issued at Interior Health facilities.
However, when the numbers at the Kamloops hospital and throughout the health region are added up, fewer than half of those receiving parking tickets from the privately run Impark Corporation have paid their fines.
The information comes from documents obtained in a Freedom of Information request by Jon Buss of Hospitalpayparking.com, a non-profit group that states it is opposed to the “exploitative practice” of pay parking at publicly funded hospitals.
“Interior Health does not directly issue parking tickets at these facilities – they are issued by Impark, which is contracted to oversee this service, to ensure that the parking system is fair for all visitors to our sites,” said Craig Paynton, manager of parking services with Interior Health.
“We know that people may be coming to hospitals under challenging circumstances and would encourage anyone who feel they have been ticketed inappropriately to call the number on the ticket to request a review.”
In the 2018-2019 fiscal year (April 1, 2018, to March 31, 2019), 7,841 parking tickets were issued at Royal Inland Hospital. Of those, 3,107 tickets have been paid, 2,507 tickets remain outstanding and 2,227 tickets were cancelled.
Based on a parking ticket amount of $57, RIH potential parking ticket revenue in 2018-2019 was $447,000, of which $177,000 has been collected.
Royal Inland Hospital accounted for the most parking tickets issued (40 per cent) among all health-care facilities in the Interior Health region, followed by Kelowna General Hospital, with its 7,234 tickets making up 37 per cent of all tickets issues in the health region.
In the entire Interior Health region in 2018-2019, there were 19,401 tickets were issued at eight facilities, with 8,068 (46 per cent) being paid, 5,667 tickets outstanding and 5,665 tickets cancelled.
The freedom of information request also revealed that Impark towed three staff vehicles in the last fiscal year. Documents do not not note any visitor vehicles being towed.
While the revenue generated by paid parking was not released by Interior Health, Paynton said the money directly offsets operational expenses, such as security, utilities, snow removal, general maintenance of the lots and capital improvements.
“If there is genuine financial hardship, hospital social workers will work with the patient and their family to find a solution,” Paynton said. “Per IH’s paid parking policy, fee exemptions apply to patients and clients with identified extenuating circumstances based on medical or financial hardship and are reviewed on a case by case basis. Free public parking at hospitals runs the risk of people taking up stalls who don’t have business at the hospital.”
According to Hospitalpayparking.com, in 2018, Interior Health hospitals generated $5.3 million of its $2.2-billion budget through paid parking. In 2015, that number was $4.1 million, showing a 30 per cent increase.
Across all B.C. health authorities in 2018, paid parking totalled $34.3 million of the total $12.4-billion operating budget.
People with general parking concerns regarding Interior Health facilities can email them to IHParking@interiorhealth.ca.