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Joe Pilon, chief operating officer at Health Sciences North (CBC)

Health Sciences North’s plans to build a 750-spot parking garage have been put on hold as officials look to buy land from the neigbouring Idylwylde Golf and Country club.

Chief operating officer Joe Pilon said the land would allow the garage to be built closer to the hospital, meaning a covered walkway between the two would be shorter.

And, he added that would mean the garage could be built for less than the current $26 million estimate — and hospital parking rates might not have to go up.

"We want to try to make the cost as economical as we can, so we don't have to raise parking rates," Pilon said.

Officials from the Idylwylde club declined to comment, but Pilon noted the land the hospital wants to buy is not part of the actual golf course.

Parking fees to pay for loan

Meanwhile, the cost of a new $1.7 million gravel parking lot will have to be covered by the employees who pay to park in the 200-spots on Centennial Drive — a short walk from the Sudbury hospital. Provincial health care dollars can't be spent on parking.

"We have borrowed the money to purchase it and we will use the revenues from parking to pay the loan," Pilon said.

The new Sudbury hospital was built several hundred parking spots short.

Pilon said the pressure to find enough parking spaces will get worse with construction projects planned in the coming years.

"One of the reasons it was important for us to have that parking lot is, during the construction of the learner centre, we will temporarily lose 100 to 150 spots, so we need to replace them," he said. "The same goes for the tiered parking structure."