A COVID recovery unit employee would like the city to show some compassion to health-care workers and visitors at the hospital by putting a stop to parking tickets.
Health care aide James Rudy said he owes $60 for a parking ticket after he forgot to feed a street meter for about an hour near the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre on April 7.
“I’m not asking them to stop taking money at the meter. I want city hall to stop ticketing people who come to visit or help people who are sick in the hospital,” Rudy said.
He wants his ticket quashed, along with anyone else who has received a ticket in a two-block radius of the hospital.
“This is the only fair, compassionate thing for the city to be doing.”
He said when COVID struck last year, the city allowed people to park for a few months for free on the streets near the hospital which made it easier for people during such a hard time.
“Well, we’re not through this hard time. It’s still here, just breaking out in new ways with new variants, and more dangerous variants.”
Rudy, who is 65, which puts him at high risk when it comes to COVID, said he has been quarantined twice in the last year.
“Every time I come to work, I’m in danger of getting COVID. I’m face-to-face with COVID-positive patients. Somebody has to take care of these people.”
He said as a part-time worker, a $60-fine is lot of money. He also doesn’t have a computer, and prefers not to make payments online. Since Red Deer City Hall is temporarily closed, he couldn’t find anyone there to help.
Amy Fengstad, parking and licensing supervisor with the city, said people can appeal their parking tickets by emailing the parking department at firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling staff at 403-342-8185.
“We do have people appeal, absolutely,” Fengstad said.
She said free parking at city lots and for on-street parking was offered during COVID until July 2020. Unfortunately, it caused a problem for employers, staff and customers, including downtown and at the hospital.
“What came promptly were complaints about there being no parking available. People were staying at those locations for extended periods of time and didn’t offer up the opportunity for turnover.”
She said for now, given those concerns, parking will not be free.
Last spring, Alberta Health also temporarily suspended parking fees at Alberta Health Services facilities, including the parkade at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
City parking tickets can be paid online or by mailing a cheque to the city, putting the cheque in the drop-off box at the east or west doors at city hall, or at their bank.