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Hospital driving forward with surface parking lot idea

Health Sciences North hopes to purchase enough land from the Idylwylde Golf and Country Club that it won't have to build a tiered parking structure.
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Health Sciences North hopes to purchase enough land from the Idylwylde Golf and Country Club that it won't have to build a tiered parking structure. File photo.
Health Sciences North hopes to purchase enough land from the Idylwylde Golf and Country Club that it won't have to build a tiered parking structure.

Joe Pilon, the hospital's senior vice-president, said the two organizations have been discussing the idea for about a year now.

Hospital officials told reporters last February they had put plans to issue a request for proposals for a 750-spot parking structure on hold while they negotiated with Idylwylde, which has property adjoining the hospital's campus.

The original idea was to purchase a small portion of Idylwylde's land to make building the parking structure easier. However, the hospital is now trying to buy enough land that it can build a 750-spot surface parking lot, Pilon said.

“While I can't give specifics, I can say the discussions (with Idylwylde) have been pretty positive,” he said.

“They're interested in helping us. We're interested in the land. We want to ensure we don't impact the golf course in any way. I think we're getting closer to a solution, but I can't get into specifics.”

When asked if there's a point when the negotiations have dragged on too long, Pilon said there might be, but he doesn't know when that will be.

“I am happy with the progress, but there is going to be some sort of a point where it's not working, and we have to do something else,” he said. “I think (negotiations are) moving along quite well.”

Previous estimates for the parking structure's cost were $20,000 to $35,000 per spot, or up to $26 million. Pilon said a surface parking lot would cost much less, although he had no cost estimates.

He said the ministry does not fund parking structures, so the hospital would have to pass the cost of the parking structure along to the public through increased rates.

To alleviate the parking crunch on the hospital's campus, last year Health Sciences North purchased a four-acre, 200-spot parking lot on Centennial Drive. This lot's total cost was $1.7 million.

“We're certainly not getting the complaints we used to,” Pilon said. “We still have challenges, because people have to walk a long way. We have to look at some options to help them with that, but the parking situation is not too bad.”

Heidi Ulrichsen

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