On the first day of school administrators at North Island College in Courtenay have been forced to rethink their pay parking policies. That’s because of a brand new hospital right next door has announced it will offer free parking to those using the hospital. But as Dean Stoltz reports, some students admit they’ll be tempted to park there instead of paying $100 dollars a semester.
It was orientation day at the North Island College (NIC) campus in Courtenay Tuesday and many students were already adding up the costs of their post secondary education.
“My books were over a $1,000 for this year and tuition for this year for the program I’m in was $4,900,” said nursing student Keisha Henry.
Add the cost of a parking pass each semester and it all adds up pretty quickly, which is why some students might be tempted to park where it’s free nearby.
“I think that a lot of people probably would because I know a lot of people who were parking at like Home Depot.” said Henry.
“It’s definitely very tempting to park in the big free [hospital] lot right behind the building rather than pay the big money for the pass here.” said NIC student Coltin Walton.
The new Comox Valley Hospital is due to open this fall is right beside NIC.
Island Health announced Friday that parking at the new hospital as well the new hospital in Campbell River will be free.
The college is now concerned that its pay parking policy, which is only a year old, will drive students to park at the hospital.
The hospital originally planned to have pay parking. The college had free parking so the college introduced pay parking a year ago in hopes that it would deter hospital patrons from parking at the college.
“Well there’s obviously been a change in the context with which we operate so we need to look at what we’re doing,” said North Island College Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Randall Heidt. “It does have impacts to budgets, it has impacts to you know, students, employees and other things so we need to look at that.”
The college expected parking to generate as much as $200,000 in revenue this year and most post secondary institutions in BC have paid parking.
However, students at NIC are hoping it goes back to being free.
“Parking used to be free and it’s a hardship for students that have to pay for everything else, their books and tuition, to have to pay for parking as well.” said student Bill Sugden.
“Well they just lowered the rates in June from $150 (per semester) to $100 which is quite a significant decrease but it’s still quite a lot I think.” said student Taylor McEachnie
Island Health says it will work closely with local governments, regional districts and North Island College to help raise awareness about the importance of reserving hospital parking spaces for those who require parking.
NIC staff will make a recommendation to the board of governors on Sept. 28.