A Langley senior spent Victoria Day collecting signatures for a petition to eliminate parking fees at Langley Memorial Hospital.
Gary Hee, 74, braved the rainy weather on Monday to campaign for up to four hours of free parking for visitors to Langley Memorial’s emergency.
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Parking at the hospital costs as much as $4.25 an hour, which Hee says can add up quickly for people on a budget.
“I’m very passionate about getting the hospital parking lot fees in the emergency department removed or abolished for a four-hour period so that people using the emergency room at the hospital don’t have to worry about their car being ticketed or an $80 parking fine because they were one minute overdue,” Hee said.
Hee is about halfway toward collecting 2,500 signatures, which he plans to present to the Langley Memorial Hospital board, along with local and provincial politicians.
Hee says the petition is to change parking at Langley Memorial, but he wants to start a trend. He plans to focus on Royal Columbian Hospital next and hopes others will petition in their jurisdictions.
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Those interested in Hee’s petition can visit his website.
Last year, Surrey city council directed staff to make street parking around Surrey Memorial Hospital free for the first two hours.
Earlier this year, a similar campaign, hospitalpayparking.ca, launched in the hopes of becoming a hub for opposition to health-care parking.
At that time, Health Minister Adrian Dix acknowledged concerns around the cost of hospital parking and said he is looking at ways to reduce the burden, including a pledge not to implement any new pay parking.
“Replacing pay parking will involve determining the resources to make things more fair while also maintaining health-care services,” Dix said in January.
The health minister added that people facing hardship, in the meantime, can apply to have fees waived on a hardship basis.
— With files from Simon Little