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Updated: 13th June 2018 08:57

Foothills hospital parkade on track to open earlier than expected

Construction of the main parkade, which has made parking difficult for many patients and visitors, is now slated to be done by the fall of 2018.

Construction has caused frustration for patients and visitors looking for convenient parking

The new parkade will house 2,000 parking stalls, replacing 1,200 spots in the old lot and 800 displaced by the cancer centre construction. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

The long-awaited new parkade at the Foothills hospital is set to open ahead of schedule, in the fall of 2018.

Construction of the four-level centre lot facility — originally slated to open in the spring of 2019 — has caused frustration for patients and visitors, who often struggle to find parking.

"We certainly recognize that the construction's caused a lot of inconvenience for patients, visitors, staff and physicians alike, and we're extremely grateful for their patience," said Michael Suddes, site director for the Foothills Medical Centre.

"What this really means for patients is they'll have a better choice of parking which is closer to their destination."

When construction is complete, the centre lot will contain 2,000 parking stalls, replacing the 1,200 in the old lot and another 800 lost due to the cancer centre construction.

Suddes says patients can continue to park under the McCaig Tower and in a lot next to the Health Sciences Centre.

Michael Suddes, Foothills Medical Centre site director, says that once the new parkade opens he expects the hospital will be able to meet the demand for parking. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

According to Suddes, AHS worked to improve its communications about where parking is available and to rein in the timelines without altering parkade's design.

"There's no change to the construction itself. The lot will look the same and be the same," he said.

"Our AHS team has been working really hard and really closely with the construction team just to make sure we squeeze out as much efficiency with the timelines as possible.... We have been able to move a little bit quicker than we anticipated."

Relief in sight for patients and visitors

Joanne Kirk, who recently  parked near McMahon stadium and walked with her husband to visit a family member at Foothills hospital, knows the frustration of trying to find parking.

"We've come here before where we've had appointments and my husband just drives around because there's no parking," said Kirk, who is pleased to hear the new parkade will open earlier than expected.

"It'll be good to have more parking."

Liz Motta arrived an hour early for her CT scan so she could park down the hill, off 29th Street N.W., and walk to her appointment. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

Liz Motta decided to show up an hour early for her CT scan so she could park down the hill from the hospital, off 29th Street N.W., in a residential area.

"It's very, very hard. I just drove around just to see where I was going two months ago ... and you've got to follow directions. It's very difficult." 

She's relieved the parkade will open a few months ahead of schedule.

"That's a positive note. They're making more progress than what they anticipated. So that's good. I'm hoping before the winter the people will be able to access this a lot easier than what they're doing right now," she said.

AHS says it has no plans to hike parking fees, which will remain at $14.25 per day once the centre parkade opens. (Alberta Health Services)

Parking fees unchanged

Both Kirk and Motta, like other patients and visitors, have  been wondering whether there will be any fee hikes when the new parkade opens, but, according to AHS, no parking rate increases are planned.

The rate will remain the same at $14.25 per day.

Suddes says the final bill for construction is expected to be roughly $68 million, above the original $60-million estimate but within the "envelope" of funding allotted for the project.

About the Author

Jennifer Lee

Reporter

Jennifer Lee is a CBC News reporter based in Calgary. She worked at CBC Toronto, Saskatoon, and Regina, before landing in Calgary in 2002. If you have a health or human interest story to share, let her know. Jennifer.Lee@cbc.ca

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