About half a dozen family members of residents at Saint Vincent's Nursing Home in Halifax picketed Tuesday morning over new parking fees for visitors, saying it will prevent people from visiting their loves ones.

Donna Hopkinson, who makes the trek from her house in Brookside to visit her 93-year-old mother every day, said the fee is a hard pill to swallow for seniors on a fixed income who have a loved one in the nursing home.

"They're in their late 70s, late 80s. They don't have an income," said Hopkinson.


Ian Johnson is protesting proposed visitor parking fees at Saint Vincent's Nursing Home and says he's worried the cost will keep visitors away. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

"They have to support themselves as well as pay to support their loved ones here in the nursing home."

Hopkinson said the board of directors for Saint Vincent's Nursing Home recently decided to charge visitors for parking on its Windsor Street property.

She said family members were initially told no decision would be made on parking fees until the fall, but then were told by the provincial Minister of Health and Wellness the charges would begin this fall.

"Everything is being done so secretively and we're not sure why. We keep wanting answers, can't get any answers, wanting to know what is coming up and what's going on," said Hopkinson.

"They haven't given us any definite answers."

Saint Vincent's Nursing Home, meanwhile, has said they don't want to create hardship for families and any fees will be reasonable. The nursing home said the money will be put back into resident programs and services.

Hopkinson said she's only been able to glean details by overhearing staff talk about the proposed plan.

"If I pay for a monthly parking fee, it could be $15 a month this year which they say would be very minimal. But you're not guaranteed a space once you pay your money," she said.

"You can come here and still not be able to get in here. So you've paid for a monthly parking fee but not have a space. So it's not making any sense at all."

Hopkinson said the unwelcome charges will also affect staff members. She said employees told her they won't be able to afford to pay for parking and will have to find other work.

"Also, a huge concern of mine personally is Saint Vincent's embarks every year on a major fundraising campaign and would like donations from families," Hopkinson said.

"I donate, but I don't feel I can donate and pay for parking at the same time so what do they want? They want the left hand, they want the right hand. I'm not sure what they want."