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Given calls QEII residential permit parking a failure

Questions about how to deal with parking problems at and around the QEII Hospital have plagued city council for years and it doesn’t look like the issue is going to be put to bed any time soon. Less than two years ago council approved a residential permit parking program for the streets surrounding the hospital to help prevent curbside congestion that was frustrating homeowners. Now Mayor Bill Given is calling that program a failure. He says it has caused more problems than it has fixed.

“We’ve disadvantaged and impacted people who are attending the hospital for medical services and I don’t think that was the intention when we implemented it. We’ve also heard from different residents in neighborhoods surrounding the hospital who say that they never asked to have permit parking installed.”

Enforcement Services Manager Chris Manuel says a number of hospital patients are still forced to park on those permitted streets because of the lack of parking on the hospital site, and the need to be close to the hospital. He says on a nearly weekly basis he is hearing from patients, some of whom are literally in tears, over the fact that they received a $50 ticket when they were sick or injured.

“They are going through a traumatic experience and that experience is further impacted by receiving a parking ticket when they believe there was no alternative for them at the time.”

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Manuel echoes Given’s sentiments that the program has been both embraced and criticized by the people living in the area.

“Although there are advocates for it, there are just as many advocates against the permit parking. We get a number of people that are upset with us on a regular basis because their friend, their roommate, or their tenant have received tickets because they are not displaying a permit for parking. ”

He says the program has also displaced the parking congestion to streets just outside the permit area, causing even more residents to come forward asking to be included.

Mayor Given says he believes the program needs to be reviewed and potentially revised, and that he would be open to the idea of scrapping it altogether.

City administration has been asked to explore some potential options to help improve the QEII Hospital parking quagmire. Those include partnering with AHS to organize a shuttle to bring staff to and from an off site parking lot; purchasing or leasing land adjacent to the hospital that could be used for a new lot; or for the city to remove the residential permit parking areas around the hospital altogether, which would immediately increase parking capacity.

At present there are 579 parking stalls on site at the hospital, 131 of which are public, while 448 are reserved for staff. There are another 310 hospital employees that are currently on a wait list for a spot. Manual says once the new Grande Prairie Regional Hospital is open, it is expected that even more staff will be working in the building and looking for a place for their vehicles.

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