Opinion: Hospital car parking still an election issue

Passengers waiting in the rain for the Deans Ave park and ride. Photo: Martin Hunter
Passengers waiting in the rain for the Deans Ave park and ride. Photo: Martin Hunter

The debacle that is Christchurch Hospital car parking has become a political football again.

A week ago, when Judith Collins was in the city she made a commitment to sort out the long-running saga if National gets into power.

In a tweet Labour’s Megan Woods said: “Please be assured that we understand just how much of a problem the lack of a car park is – I have been working on the details of a solution that’s pretty much there – more to say very soon . . .’’

Hopefully, it comes very soon and it is something substantial for the people for Christchurch.

The Star has relentlessly campaigned for better car parking at the hospital in recent years, prompted by the now gone park and ride from Deans Ave, which would see people standing out in the rain in the winter – patients and visitors – trying to get to the hospital.

It was an appalling situation.

The National-led coalition Government had done about zilch to sort the problem when it was in power pre-2017.

Labour’s Canterbury MPs made a number of undertakings to do something about hospital car parking in the run-up to the election, and backed that after they got into power in late 2017.

Three years ago, then new Greater Christchurch regeneration minister Woods said work was being done behind the scenes to find solutions to parking woes. But she couldn’t say when changes would be made, and if any relief will come before winter 2018.

“We’ve got to leave no stone unturned. Winter’s coming,” Woods told The Star at the time.

“We’re driving it as fast as we can after a period of inaction by the previous Government.”

There were some solutions and eventually the park and ride was closed. Most hoped pinned on a standalone hospital car parking building – a no-brainer in the city the size of Christchurch.

The Ministry of Health had been tasked with building one by this year but that has been delayed. No surprises there.

Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson said the winter (2018) deadline was still the “ideal” goal to sort car parking issues out.

“We haven’t got there yet, there’s a few things floated around,” she said at the time.

Eventually, the Lichfield St car park was made available. But it wasn’t cheap – $2.80 an hour, far more than the $5 a day at the park and ride.

Waiting times for appointments at Christchurch Hospital are long; so the Lichfield St car park was never a cheap option.

Several weeks out from another election, the car parking issue has arisen again.

No surprises there.

 

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