A Stony Plain man is calling for changes to parking at the University of Alberta Hospital, after paying $88 to go see his wife post-surgery.
Michale MacMillan’s wife woke him up Friday morning, calling from the hospital. She’d had surgery the day before and was having difficulties in her recovery.
“It was 5 o’clock. I’d just got a phone call from her saying she was in a bit of distress so I kind of rushed into town here.”
He went to the hospital and parked in the Alberta Health Services lot off 112 Street. MacMillan saw parking meters about 10 steps from his car, and went to register his plate and pay for parking. He selected a full day of parking — and the machine told him it would cost more than $100.
“I was pretty shocked at that, but at the time I just thought maybe because of the cold weather the prices might ramp up. I didn’t want to wait around to try and figure it out. So I ended up just paying $88 instead of $100 and just went in to take care of my wife.”
The $88 covered him for 16 hours of parking, at a rate of $5.50 an hour. There was no daily maximum. That’s because MacMillan accidentally paid for his parking at a University of Alberta meter, instead of an AHS one.
AHS has a daily maximum rate of $21.75, which would have been far cheaper for MacMillan.
The meters he should have paid at are located inside the entrance to the University of Alberta Hospital. There was a note where he parked saying as much – but MacMillan says he didn’t see it in his rush.
“It is my fault. I didn’t read the sign properly. I just presumed it would be the same price everywhere you park, or within reason. Not $100 here and $20 there. It just baffles my mind. It doesn’t make sense.”
The meter he paid at is for parking at the Zeidler Ledcor Centre, across the sidewalk from where MacMillan parked his van.
“Don’t take it for granted that just because you see a machine beside where you’re parked, or close to the vicinity — it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the right one for where you’re parked.”
He says he phoned the University of Alberta Parking Services three times, but the calls just rang through and then dropped.
The University of Alberta did not give Global News an interview, but in a statement wrote:
“Parking Services has procedures in place for extenuating circumstances regarding parking errors. Concerns are reviewed and may result in a refund. However, in this particular case, UAlberta Parking Services was not notified and therefore did not have the opportunity to review the charges.
The ticket machines identify the parking options and the cost of parking is shown before purchase. Lot C does not offer a daily rate.
The UAlberta parking lot near the Zeidler Ledcor Centre (Lot C) is a restricted hourly lot. This is to support visitors to the university and hospital that need parking for a limited time, this may include hospital appointments.
Implementing a daily rate in this high traffic/parking area could quickly lead to no space for hourly users.”
That’s disappointing to MacMillan. He says he did try and reach the university, to talk to them about making changes to prevent others from making the same mistake.
“Have more signage that indicates, that delineates where you’re parking,” he said.
Alberta Health Services said it’s something it’s looking into. New signage was brought in last year to try and prevent hospital users from mistakenly parking in the university lot.
“We know that paying for parking can lead to additional stress or frustration for people visiting a hospital for care, or visiting loved ones receiving care.
We are mindful of that when we place parking signs and wayfinding at our sites, and try to make it simple and as visible as possible.
At the UAH site, all AHS parking lots have signage indicating where our stalls are and how payments have to be made at the hospital entrance.
We understand that people in a rush could get confused and we are currently looking at ways of improving signage and wayfinding at the site to make it even easier for our visitors.”