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PREDICATED PARKING: Kelowna, Kamloops hospital staff not using shuttle service | infonews

The Burnett staff parking lot is approximately one kilometer from the Kelowna General Hospital. Work on the site is planned to make it more usable.

(ROB MUNRO / iNFOnews.ca)

July 13, 2022 – 07:30

Although it can take five to six years for staff to get a parking pass at hospitals in Kamloops and Kelowna, no one seems to mind walking from remote parking lots.

Interior Health is in the process of providing more parking spaces for staff in Kamloops and Kelowna but, despite staff comments to iNFOnews.ca that walking to remote parking lots is scary, especially on dark winter nights, almost no one calls available shuttle services.

“We have offered shuttle service in the past between the Burnett lot and Kelowna General Hospital and, I have to tell you, uptake has been minimal,” said Lorne Sisley, general manager of facilities management and operations for Interior Health at iNFOnews. California.

The Burnett car park is a dirt car park located near Ethel Street and Glenwood Avenue, about a mile from the hospital, or about a 10-12 minute walk.

The shuttle originally ran on a schedule then went on call.

“There was finally a point where we ended it just because there was actually no demand,” Sisley said.

Similarly, a shuttle service for staff at the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, which is on call, is rarely used.

“The last time it was used was in February,” Sisley said. “We had two calls for this. Since then, there have been no more requests. »

In the winter of 2021, nurses told harrowing stories to their union president about street harassment.

“I was walking to my car after 11 p.m. and had a guy come up to me and put his arms around me and ask where I was going,” wrote a Kelowna nurse. “I had to nudge him and tell him to get away from me.”

READ MORE: New nurses have to wait up to nine years for parking spaces at interior hospitals

Although Kelowna General Hospital has a “safe walk” program where security guards walk with staff, this stops outside of hospital property.

“When it comes to safe walking on the streets, we will assume that the City of Kelowna looks after all of our streets for all pedestrians, not just our staff,” Sisley said.

A recent email from Interior Health says the waitlist for a staff day parking permit is six years in Kelowna and five in Kamloops, but that may not be saying it all, Sisley said.

“The challenge we have with the waiting list is that people have waited so long that when we have stalls that become free because staff are retiring or in other circumstances, we can reduce the list of people. wait pretty quickly for a while because some of the people who are on the wait list, they may not be part of the organization anymore,” he said.

For this reason, he cannot say how many months or years will be removed from waiting lists with two new parking areas under construction.

Firstly, 115 additional staff parking passes will be available in the new Gaglardi Tower at the Royal Inland Hospital, which is due to open next week.

This is based on 1.75 passes per parking space due to shift work, the Interior Health email states.

In Kelowna, Interior Health spent $10.2 million earlier this year to purchase a vacant 1.7 acre lot across Pandosy Street from the hospital. It will eventually be turned into a car park.

The design of the site is done in consultation with the neighborhood association, Sisley said. It is hoped to be finished by the end of the year, but it may not start until next spring, given supply chain issues.

There will likely be about 130 staff parking spaces, which equates to about $77,000 per space just for land costs.

This will be in addition to 707 stands on site (some in covered parking) and 260 off site for a total of more than 1,000.

There are 462 on-site parking spaces and 200 off-site parking spaces for Royal Inland Hospital staff, Sisley said.

The new parking lot in Kelowna is a temporary measure since the land should eventually be used for the expansion of the hospital.

At one point, Interior Health had a second staff parking lot in its plans, but that was scrapped in 2021.

READ MORE: Interior Health, the city of Kelowna appears to be heading for a parking showdown

At this point, there are no plans to expand public parking at Kelowna General, Sisley said. Once the new surface parking lot is complete, a traffic study will likely be done to see if there is a need to expand the public parking lot.

There are 468 public parking spaces in Kelowna and 402 in Kamloops.

It’s also possible that regular shuttle service will be tried again for the Burnett parking lot in Kelowna, which will be leveled to make it more usable and expanded by removing a building and three laptops from the site.

Whether there will come a day when waiting lists for staff parking will be more manageable depends, in part, on the balance of needs.

“It’s probably also a conversation with taxpayers,” Sisley said. “How much are we investing in more parking at venues compared to other investments we should be making for health care?”

He noted that cities are encouraging alternative means of transportation, like public transit and bicycling, rather than just adding more parking.

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