New parkade eyed for Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops

The Thompson Regional Hospital District has set aside $5 million for an estimated $15-million to $20-million parkade that would be built above St Ann's Academy. The parkade, which could contain 400 stalls, would be the third on hospital property.

Planning is in the works for a new parkade to address parking issues at Royal Inland Hospital. On Thursday (March 25), the Thompson Regional Hospital District approved in its annual budget $5 million for an estimated $15-million to $20-million parkade — a third parkade at RIH to join the two existing ones now in use.

A budget report to the board states: “We expect a request for cost sharing of this new project in the amount of approximately $5,000,000 sometime in 2021, and therefore this amount has been built in the 2021 TRHD budget, contingent on later approval of cost sharing by the board.”

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Kamloops Mayor and TRHD chair Ken Christian said the board had communicated from the outset of the patient care tower project — currently under construction — that planned parking was insufficient.

The new parkade would be located above St. Ann’s Academy, in a location once occupied by a day care.

“We told them that they first of all don’t have enough parking for what they’ve already got there and, secondly, once the parkade or the patient-care tower is completed, we were worried the story the week after we do the big ribbon cutting is going to be there is no parking — we’ve been telling them this for quite a while,” Christian said.

The parkade would be built in place of an original plan for a 174-stall surface parking lot as part of the patient-care tower project.

On Thursday, the board heard from Interior Health on the issue of parking at the hospital. It heard plans for that 174-stall surface parking lot have been put put on hold.

“We’ve temporarily put that on pause as we look at other options for expanded parking,” Interior Health director of business operations Corey Wein said, one of which was consideration of a leased parkade.

Wein said Interior Health issued a request for quotes in trying to engage the private sector to build and operate a parkade, but subsequently cancelled the request because it “turned out not to be a viable option.”

The request for quotes was issued on Aug. 17, 2020, and closed on Sept. 16, 2020, and referenced “a new 400-stall parking solution for the Royal Inland Hospital.” The Clinical Services Building parkade, which opened in July 2016, has 350 stalls. RIH also has an older, smaller parkade at the south end of its property, one used by staff.

“We are still working actively with the ministry on options for expanded parking,” he said. “Right now, I don’t have a formal request of the board, but we are still working on that and I hope to have an update before the next meeting.”

Christian said Interior Health is looking to extend the contract to fund the parkade.

Asked for more information — including location, number of stalls, for whom they would be (staff and/or patients) and timelines — Interior Health provided the following statement:

“We know there are parking issues at RIH and, together with our stakeholders, we continue to explore options to add more stalls at the Kamloops hospital. At this point, we remain in the planning stages and we look forward to sharing more information when we can. Included within the approved Patient Care Tower project was the addition of around 100 net new parking stalls.”

Christian said the public, hospital employees and BC Nurses’ Union have been sounding the alarm over a lack of parking spaces at the facility for staff — who are forced in some cases to park offsite — and patients.

“There’s not even enough parking right now,” Christian said. “When visitors come back into visiting people at the hospital, it’s going to be absolutely impossible. The other thing you have to recognize is that this is not just a Kamloops hospital, this is a regional hospital — so people are coming from Barriere, they’re coming from Clinton and from Spences Bridge with pickup trucks and stuff like that.

“They’re visiting Grandma and they’re visiting loved ones and they’re just not going to be able to park around the facility and there’s really not street parking available. We’ve said that we want to have it expanded. Now they’re kind of believing that that’s the case.”

Budget gets green light

The Thompson Regional Hospital District board has also approved its budget, which includes a 1.5 per cent tax increase. As a result, the average assessed home (valued at $385,000) in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District in 2021 is expected to pay $159.06 in hospital taxes come property tax time, an increase of $4.51 for the average residential property.

The rate per $1,000 assessment in the residential tax class is $0.4132. TNRD finance director Doug Rae said the board adopted a policy some time ago to automatically increase taxes by 1.5 per cent each year in order to help fund major projects, such as the RIH patient-care tower. Future projects planned include the parkade.

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