British Columbia·What's Your Story?

Vancouver parking should be free for cancer patients, says cancer survivor

"As someone who has gone through and survived cancer, I can't tell you the anxiety experienced at finding a parking ticket on my vehicle."

Nancy Pilling spent hundreds of dollars on parking fees and fines while she was battling cancer

Nancy Pilling thinks the City of Vancouver should offer free parking for cancer patients while they're in treatment. (CBC News)

A Vancouver woman wants the city to give cancer patients a break on parking.

"If you're lying on a table waiting for radiation, you can't just jump up and plug your meter," said former cancer patient Nancy Pilling. 

Pilling said she racked up hundreds of dollars in parking fees and tickets while getting radiation and chemotherapy for uterine cancer at the B.C. Cancer Agency.

For six months in 2013, Nancy Pilling was frequently in and out of the agency, which is located on West 10th Avenue near Vancouver's busy Broadway Corridor. 

Pillings said sometimes she paid $14.25 dollar a day, or $3.50 an hour, to park at the clinic.

Other times, she used metered parking on the street, which costs $3 an hour and has a maximum allowable time of two hours. 

Parking anxiety

Pilling said most times her treatment finished on time and two hours was enough. But sometimes it would last longer than expected and she would find a ticket on her windshield.

"As someone who has gone through and survived cancer, I can't tell you the anxiety experienced at finding a parking ticket on my vehicle," said Pilling in a letter to the city.

"I didn't have the luxury of a benefits package where I worked so all expenses were coming out of my pocket." 

Now that she's free of cancer, she's hoping the city could consider a program to provide free street parking for those getting cancer treatment.

"I think for people who are patients and actually have to be there, I think there should be some decal program that would cover the period of time that you need it."

Free parking available: city

The city says there's no way to guarantee free parking for patients in high-demand areas around the city.

It also said there is free street parking available within a couple of blocks of the Cancer Agency, although it is also limited to two hours. 

In a written statement, the B.C. Cancer agency said it sometimes waives parking fees for those with financial hardship, but patients must apply and be approved for the exemption.


What's your story?

This story is part of a special CBC Vancouver News series, What's Your Story? The series focuses on issues pitched by our audience about what matters to them. 

If you have a story to pitch about an issue in your community, send it to mylocalstory@cbc.ca

With files from Bal Brach and Maryse Zeidler

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