By Belle Hatfield
The days of free parking anywhere at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital complex are almost over.
Construction is underway on gating and fencing at all of the free parking areas on the complex, including the Grove Road parking lot.
It is the next phase in the hospital’s parking redevelopment and will also see additional staff parking fees implemented. The parking tolls were introduced in 2002.
Changes in parking were announced last May when prices to park increased from $2 to $3.
South West Health’s director of communications Fraser Mooney said, “In order to more consistently, equitably and safely enforce our parking policy we are converting additional parking areas to gated lots.”
The changes in Yarmouth are being mirrored in Digby and Shelburne and when fully implemented the district is expecting revenues of around $640,000 annually from paid parking. In the last fiscal year, the district raised $340,000 from parking.
The Canadian Medical Association Journal has called for an end to parking fees at health care facilities calling them a user fee in disguise that constitutes a barrier to health care.
For cash-strapped hospitals, however, parking fees are just one way to help them try and balance the books. Since they were first implemented in Yarmouth, the district has come to rely on that revenue. The Vanguard was told last spring it would be unlikely to see a reversal in policy any time soon.
After the renovations are completed, Mooney said the parking area, located on the site of the old nurses residence, would be fenced off. He cited safety concerns for the decision to make that popular spot to park for free out of bounds.