Hospital parking hassles to ease with new lot

New staff parking spots will free up more spaces for patients and visitors

Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre to add 140 spaces

Thunder Bay hospital patients and visitors often have trouble finding a parking spot during peak outpatient clinic hours. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

Finding a parking spot should soon be a lot easier at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.  

Workers are finishing up construction on a new parking lot, adding 140 spots for employee parking.

Until now, some staff have had to take up visitor parking spaces, according to Scott Potts, executive vice-president of corporate and diagnostic services.

The new parking lot at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre will add 140 spots. It's expected to open within the next two weeks. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

"We'll be removing the staff parking from that area and transferring it over to the new expanded space, which should free up capacity in those main visitor lots," Potts said.

Potts noted the hospital's parking needs have grown over the last few years, and parking can be an issue during peak clinic hours, generally between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

"There's a lot of pressure during times when we've got high clinic volumes, high outpatient volumes and high visitor volumes," Potts said.

"Sometimes it can be a challenge — as far as finding a parking spot — so we've taken some steps to improve that."

Longer-term expansion?

The new spaces are located next to the existing employee parking lot on the east side of the building.

Potts said he hopes to get the lines painted this week, depending on the weather. The new parking spots are expected to open this week or next.  

In the meantime, Potts said that if people are unable to find a spot in a visitor parking lot, there is a 20-minute grace period to get out of the lot and go to another one. People can insert their ticket at the exit gate and it should open. If they need assistance, there's a call button to reach security, he said.

While the new lot should deal with the immediate parking shortfall, Potts added the hospital is looking at a longer-term expansion, but still needs to firm up what those opportunities might be.