Parking rates are going up in January at the Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, and that's raising the ire of employees, patients and visitors who say parking at almost all Montreal hospitals is unaffordable already.
The rate at the CHUM will climb from an $18 daily maximum to $21 — just over the $20 maximum daily rate now charged by the McGill University Health Centre at its two main downtown sites.
"It should be eight dollars maximum," said MUHC visitor Chris Bakopanos as he walked from the spot he had been lucky enough to find on the street.
At most Montreal hospitals, drivers are charged the maximum daily rate after just one hour in the parking lot.
That maximum rate ranges from a low of $12 at St. Mary's Hospital to $25 at the Jewish General Hospital.
The hospitals won't say how much money parking generates, but at the MUHC, any money left over after paying wages for parking staff, maintenance and snow removal goes towards medical equipment and patient care.
At the French-language Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, all parking revenue goes toward the hospital foundation.
Gilles Côté, the director of parking at MUHC, said hospital parking must be priced high, in order to discourage drivers with business near the hospitals from taking up spaces in hospital lots.
But visitors like Bakopanos say the policy is not good for patients.
"People don't come and visit [if] they can't afford the parking," Bakopanos says.
The MUHC and CHUM do offer reduced rates for oncology and dialysis patients who have regular appointments at their hospitals.