Concern as Christchurch Hospital parking shortage worsens
The battle to find a car park near Christchurch Hospital is about to worsen as the hospital rebuild intensifies and surrounding parking dwindles.
Multimillion-dollar construction projects onsite and nearby could bring more than 2000 rebuild workers in the area daily, joining outpatients, visitors and hospital staff in hunting for parks.
Public parking is already banned at the hospital except for disability spaces, and there will be no on-site parking either for construction workers. The earthquake-damaged hospital car parking building was demolished in July.
Age Concern Canterbury chief executive Simon Templeton said hospital parking had long been "a nightmare" for older people "and there's no end in sight for that".
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"It needs to be seriously looked at because it's going to be some time before things get back to normal."
While the hospital's park-and-ride scheme suited some, those with impaired mobility had problems such as uneven carpark surfaces increasing the risk of falls, Templeton said.
"It's been a stop-gap measure and it needs to be less stop-gap – we need a better solution."
The park-and-ride scheme gives hospital users parking for $2 an hour or $5 on Deans Ave 1.5km away, with a free shuttle service running to and from the hospital and Christchurch Women's next door.
Roading and traffic flow changes being made by the Christchurch City Council have already reduced surrounding on-street parking, with further reductions still to come. Public parking will close within weeks on the old brewery site nearby for the new metro sports centre to be built.
Staff are also hard hit by the shortage, with a long waiting list to access a nearby staff carpark.
Andrew Dickerson, a Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) member and hospital advisory committee chairman, said he was "acutely aware of how difficult [parking] is and concerned that it's about to get much more difficult."
He said there was no way out of the need to construct and renovate major hospital buildings, part of a $1 billion project which is the biggest hospital redevelopment in New Zealand history.
"I acknowledge it will be enormously disruptive."
Estimates put the combined upcoming construction workforces on the hospital, metro sports and health precinct projects at 2200 people on any one day, Dickerson said.
CDHB chief executive David Meates said while they were well aware of the shortage, parking around the hospital was "largely the responsibility of other organisations and commercial interests".
Despite this, the board was working with the city council, Environment Canterbury and Crown rebuild company Otakaro to manage the problem and find solutions.
Meates said the park-and-ride shuttle scheme had moved more than 380,000 people and drawn positive feedback, and they also encouraged people to use public transport. They were looking at a further park and ride option "to meet the ongoing demands for the next five years", he said.
Forecast that hospital parking and access would remain "very challenging" for the next five years. "This is going to be a very congested part of Christchurch."
CDHB member Aaron Keown, a long-time advocate of better hospital parking, said the hospital should be "the most accessible place in the city".
"There's a massive black cloud hanging around the problem of parking at the hospital."
Keown said while many patients and visitors used the park-and-ride service, most had no choice and some did not like it. Other solutions such as free bus services from around the city should also be considered, he said.
"A lot of people can't plan ahead. You don't know dad is going to have a heart attack today."
Acute Services building (new) $445m, completion 2018.
Outpatients building (new) $72m, completion 2018.
Energy Centre (new).
Riverside block (renovation), completion 2021.
Ongoing earthquake repairs.
Metro sports centre, $300m, completion 2020.
Health Research Education Facility.
Private research facility.