Regina General Hospital parking concerns aired by nurses and neighbours at community meeting

Workers at Regina’s General Hospital and people who live in the area gathered on Monday night to discuss the highly contentious issue of parking.

Ward 4 councillor Lori Bresciani hosted the community meeting at Living Hope Alliance church.

Although the hospital isn’t in her ward, Bresciani said she’s heard complaints from doctors, nurses and hospital visitors all over the city.

One possible solution is two-hour parking meters in the area, which is being recommended in the city’s 2019 budget. Bresciani said the city wants to implement an app so users could pay by credit card and extend their payment from anywhere, within the two-hour time limit.

The city hopes the meters will keep people moving, but many people at the meeting said that wouldn’t work, because nurses are usually there for eight or 12 hours anyway.

“If they can, on a break, they go and move their car. If they can’t, they end up racking up tickets,” said Tracey Zambory, president of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses. “They worry about their safety if they have to park five to six blocks away.What we’re hearing mostly, is frustration.”

“I would be happy to pay for parking if there was a better solution,” said one nurse at the meeting.

Residents push for parkade

Some residents at the meeting said building a parkade for hospital staff and visitors would be the best solution.

“I’ll come home after a long day and all I want to do is park and go to bed, but there’s no parking made accessible to me,” said Nolan Hansinger, who lives on Toronto Street, right across from the hospital. “There’s not really much you can do about it. It sucks.”

A parkade is something that’s been discussed numerous times over the years. Due to bylaws, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) can’t purchase land for that purpose, but could build within the hospital’s current footprint.

The biggest obstacle is the cost.

“Heritage needs another parking lot like it needs a hole in the head,” said Councillor Andrew Stevens, who is in charge of Ward 3, which includes RGH. “If you had $40 million healthcare dollars, would you spend it on a parkade?”

Park-and-ride expansion considered

Dale Orban, manager of parking and safety with the SHA, said it is considering expanding the hours and locations of its park-and-ride service, which shuttles employees from two drop off spots in the city to the hospital for work. About 250 workers use the service, which is currently offered between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. on weekdays.

“It gives them the ability to not park onsite, to not have to go to their car, but that being said, we know it can’t meet the needs of everybody,” said Orban.”So we’re hoping through meetings like this we can get the information we need to make the service better for more people.”

Residents can once again have their say regarding parking at Regina General Hospital on Dec. 10 when the idea of parking meters will be discussed at city council.

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