WATCH: Courtenay City Council is contemplating a bylaw that would prohibit pay parking at the Comox Valley’s new hospital. April Lawrence reports.
When the Comox Valley's new hospital opens later this year it could be without one frustrating feature many islanders have grown used to — pay parking.
"[We would] potentially pass a bylaw which would prohibit pay parking in the P3 and P4 zone which is where the hospital is located. Very similar to what Campbell River did about three weeks ago," said Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula.
Council in Campbell River passed a bylaw prohibiting pay parking at their new hospital, which will also open later this year.
Hospital pay parking is an issue that's proven controversial since the day it was introduced, often invoking frustration, even emotion, from hospital patients and visitors.
"About two months ago my oldest daughter was in here for a long time, and it cost us an awful lot of money for us to be here with her the whole time she passed away," said one woman paying for parking at Victoria General Hospital in View Royal.
Others called it a necessary evil.
"What are they going to do for maintenance and all those other things that cost money? It's a good income," said another woman.
In fact Island Health raised nearly $7.5 million dollars from parking last year.
Island Health says the revenue generated from parking goes into the cost of maintaining the parking lots and they say if they aren't allowed to charge for parking at a hospital then that would come directly out of their operating budget
Courtenay's mayor says the issue has touched a nerve in his community.
"We've had probably more phone calls and more emails on this issue than probably anything we've ever dealt with," said Jangula.
People paying for parking at Victoria General Hospital like the idea, and hope to see it there.
But View royal's mayor says that's unlikely.
"I really don't think at this point that we would have the authority to go back and do that even if council was interested," said View Royal Mayor David Screech.
Campbell River and Courtenay say they have the authority since they're using zoning to ban hospital pay parking.
Island Health says it will review those local bylaws to determine its next steps.