New $30M parkade for Surrey Memorial Hospital draws criticism
Fraser Health is spending $30 million of taxpayers' money to add 300 parking spaces
Fraser Health is being criticized for spending $30 million of taxpayers' money to add just 300 parking spaces at Surrey Memorial Hospital.
Construction is already underway on the new underground parking garage next to the new Surrey Memorial Hospital, which itself is costing $500 million.
Fraser Health tore down a 425-space, three-storey parkade to to build a four-storey parkade in the exact same spot.
Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation questioned that decision.
"Taking an above ground parkade and putting it underground, it does make you wonder, is this the best use of taxpayers' dollars?" said Bateman.
"And what's the end game — is it just to have something prettier above ground?"
After CBC sent a series of phone calls and emails requesting to know the cost of the parking project, Erin Labbé, Senior Consultant, Public Affairs at Fraser Health issued a statement saying:
"The cost to demolish, rebuild and resolve significant seismic issues with the North Parkade at Surrey Memorial Hospital was $29.4 million."
Six weeks ago the CBC requested any documentation to support the claim that there were seismic issues with the old parkade, which was built in the 1980s.
Several engineers and architects told the CBC the parkade was constructed after B.C. building codes changed significantly to include seismic considerations.
They suggest the old parkade had a 50-year life span, and did not legally require any seismic upgrading.
Bateman filed a Freedom of Information request, which turned up no engineers' reports or records documenting seismic or structural problems with the old parkade.
He says if there were "significant" seismic problems, as stated by Fraser Health communications, there should be records.
"It certainly seems misleading, I'm very curious to know what went on behind the scenes, why communications thought this was such an important seismic issue when there don't seem to be any documents backing that up."
But health officials say, "Under no circumstances would Fraser Health intentionally mislead the media on any issue of concern to the public we serve."
Fraser Health did provide two documents about the parking options, including a 2012 report costing out two options.
Option one: a seismic upgrading the old parkade for $4 million and adding a new parkade, for a total of $22 million.
Option two: an estimated $31 million to demolish and rebuild the old parkade with 300 additional spaces.
Option two was selected and Fraser Health also provided the criteria used to make that decision.
Bateman says spending nearly $100,000 for every additional parking spot is a misuse of taxpayers' money.
"$30 million for 300 stalls is a ton of money...It really does seem like a beautification project, which frankly, no one rushing into that hospital cares about. We just really want to park and see our loved one. So spend the money on their care instead of our cars."
In Surrey, just because a building is old, it doesn't mean it must be rebuilt to today's code. Unlike Vancouver, the city does not require upgrades.
Marco Buccini, Executive Director for Strategic Development and Real Estate said they chose the most cost effective plan.
"The age and safety of the existing parkade was strongly considered by both Fraser Health and structural engineers in our analysis of our options but it was not the determining factor," said Buccini.
"Based on a number of criteria outlined in our memo, it was determined that the most prudent, and forward-thinking option would be to replace the existing parkade, creating much needed capacity in a location that is most easily accessible for patients, simultaneously with redevelopment of the site."
The new parking garage has been designed so another building could be added on top if needed in the future and is scheduled to open early next year.