A petition to remove parking fees for people visiting Langley Memorial Hospital’s ER will be taken up by the Township’s mayor and council.
Gary Hee’s petition – which currently has nearly 3,300 signatures – will be presented to the Fraser Health Authority by Mayor Jack Froese at a future FHA meeting.
The council unanimously approved a motion by Coun. Kim Richter to take the petition to the health authority, which runs Langley Memorial and most other hospitals and medical facilities in the region.
“Wow, it’s for real!” a pleased Hee said after council voted.
Hee, a former council candidate, began circulating the petition on April 12, aiming to get 2,500 signatures.
He is asking for the province, LMH board, mayors and councils of Langley City and Township 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.”
Hee said he wanted to have 2,500 signatures by the time he turned 75 in July, and he more than passed that goal.
At present, anyone who makes it to the hospital in their own vehicle, as well as friends and relatives who drop off patients at the ER, have to pay for parking, as do all other visitors to the hospital.
Those not paying for parking can be ticketed.
The parking fees have long been a sore point for many hospital visitors, with discussions on them coming up during several recent local civic elections.
However, it is Fraser Health that controls the parking lots, not local governments.
The parking lots at LMH have been in the news several times recently. An expansion of the ER means a restructuring that will slightly reduce the total number of spaces available in general parking.
In addition, staff have complained after the lights went out multiple times this spring in the staff and visitor parking lots at night, leaving them to get to their cars in the dark.
On Tuesday, June 4, Hee delivered his petition to the provincial legislature in Victoria.
At the time it had 3,172 names, he said, and after a week, as of Tuesday, June 11, the number of signatures had increased to 3,279.
“I still have petitions out there,” Hee said, “so I expect the number will go up [again].
He is also collecting names online at www.garybhee.ca.
Hee plans to shut down the petition on July 23.
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