Gary Hee said his petition against hospital parking fees will likely be his last. Dan Ferguson Langley Advance Times

Campaign against hospital parking fees is gathering momentum: organizer

Gary Hee said the bid to eliminate ER parking fees will be his last petition campaign

So far, Gary Hee says, virtually everyone he has approached has been willing to sign his petition against parking fees for emergency room patients at B.C. hospitals.

As of Wednesday, the number of signatures had topped 1,100, giving Hee optimism that he will meet his goal of 2,500 by the time he turns 75 in July.

It will likely be the last campaign for Hee, a veteran of several previous petition efforts, including working on the FightHST petition campaign in 2009, launching his own petition campaigns, for a crosswalk at the corner of 72nd Avenue and 196th Street on the Surrey-Langley border in 2014, and against tolls in 2017

“I don’t think I have any more energy to carry on after that (turning 75),” Hee said.

READ MORE: Traffic lights approved for 72 Avenue

READ MORE: Traffic safety advocate spearheading ‘no bridge toll for B.C.’ campaign

On April 12, he began circulating a petition among Langley residents that calls on the Langley Memorial Hospital Board and the mayors and councils of the city and township of Langley “to implement ways and means to collaborate to remove parking fees placed upon us or our vehicles while attending the hospital emergency department premises for medical reasons during and up to a four hour period.”

The petition will also be sent to the provincial government.

Hee has hit a few roadblocks on the road to 1,100 names.

He said he was ordered off the premises when he tried to get signatures at Langley Memorial Hospital, and some seniors homes did the same.

Fraser Health spokesperson Tasleem Juma said the health authority has a policy against such activity because it needs to ensure patients, visitors and employees can easily access the hospital for care.

“People who wish to sell products, distribute materials or in this case, have a petition signed are asked to be offsite,” Juma said.

“This usually means on the sidewalk across the street, so it doesn’t interfere with patient access,” she added.

Hee has beenstanding on sidewalks and setting up in other parking lots using his truck as a mobile billboard, as well as using his website http://garybhee.ca .

“There have been a number of people who really want to see something like this occur,” Hee said.

“They are pretty strongly in favour.”

He described talking to individuals who told him they were spending hundreds of dollars on parking a year because they have had to make multiple trips to the hospital, not just the ER.

“People are really facing a financial crisis,” Hee said.

“People [whose] children have disabilities and they always have to go to hospital, adults who have to have dialysis, people who have parents or relatives in care, ” Hee said.

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Email: dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

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