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Attack of the fines

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Campus parking is a problem, and URSU doesn’t like the administration’s solution

John Cameron
Editor-in-Chief

If you’re a student at the University of Regina, odds are good you’ve heard someone complain about parking.

While some of the complaints are geared towards Parking and Transportation Services, which is responsible for ticketing illegally-parked cars on campus, much of the ire is directed towards the lack of available stalls. With an increase in the “hotel parking” meant for students living in residence, students with M-class parking passes this year can expect to feel an increased squeeze in the number of parking spots they can access.

But the university administration’s relief strategy for parking pass holders has drawn fire from the U of R Students’ Union.

In July, the university’s board of governors passed a proposal to add a $100 fine for possession of fraudulent parking passes to the university’s parking bylaws, as well as to increase the fine for illegally parking on campus from $15 within 14 days and $50 afterward to $65 within 14 days and $100 afterward.

It’s the latter proposal that URSU takes issue with.

“[The increase] is extortionary,” URSU president Kent Peterson told the Carillon. “By jacking up the cost of parking tickets, Vianne Timmons and Parking Services have issued a prescription to the parking problem without doing a thorough diagnosis first.”

The U of R’s vice president of administration, Dave Button, believes illegal parking is the source of the problem. According to the proposal he brought before the board of governors in July, he explained that the number of illegal parkers on a given day as recently as two years ago was under 50. However, that number jumped over the last two years to between 200 and 400 from the months of September to November.

“We had many, many complaints from students who were not getting access,” he told the Carillon. “It’s very frustrating when you’ve paid for a parking pass and you can’t get access, and the reason you can’t get access is because there [are] illegal parkers there.”
Button added that, as far as the administration can gather, the higher numbers of illegal parkers in question don’t have parking passes.

“We had people circling and cycling for a long time, saying, ‘I can’t get into my stall. I’ve paid for an M pass and I can’t get in. I’ve tried this lot and that lot,’” he said. “And they were absolutely right.”

The change in fines, Button added, is an attempt to get students to make “behavioural” changes – to find alternatives to parking in M-class lots, or to find alternatives for getting towards campus. As examples, he pointed out the increase in bus routes to campus in recent years, as well as the university’s investment in bike racks for the front of some of the buses, the purchase of additional bike racks on campus and proposed bike paths.

But URSU sees the issue of illegal parking as symptomatic of larger transportation issues. Raising ticket fines is, so to speak, putting the car before the stalls.

“Using the university’s own numbers, last year about four per cent of the stalls on campus were unavailable to pass-holding students due to illegal parkers,” Peterson pointed out. “This year, the U of R’s enrolment is up 11 per cent, plus a few hundred students from the new Faculty of Nursing, plus more and more residence students require parking stalls. This all means that even if every single one of the illegal parkers were deterred by a stiff parking ticket fee, there still would be nowhere near enough stalls for students.”

Moreover, URSU’s position is, for students who want to change their behaviour, those other options simply aren’t good enough. Peterson claims other work towards opening up more parking on campus is insufficient and far from timely.

“The U of R will often cite their strategic plan, which is fine,” he said. “But students need bus service now, not just ten years from now.”

What improvements the university does have planned – including a new parking lot scheduled for 2013 – won’t be paid for by the increase in parking fines. It’s “not a money grab,” according to Button.

Instead, the U of R’s total take from the new fines will remain at $7.03 per ticket, the amount agreed upon when the City of Regina, which handles ticket stock and processing for the U of R, updated its ticketing processes in 2008.    

Regardless of profit, however, parking fines don’t pay for campus parking improvements. Profits the sale of parking passes, which will increase in cost by four per cent each year for the next three years, go into a parking trust, and that’s where the money for improvements comes from.

Both Button and Peterson clarified that the $419,000 profit margin of Parking and Transportation Services went elsewhere into the Ancillary Services portion of the U of R’s budget – namely, into subsidizing the money-losing divisions, Food Services and Residence.

It’s URSU’s suggestion of what to do with Parking and Transportation Services’ profit instead of subsidizing Food Services that ultimately casts this issue into relief. The students’ union’s campaign materials state Parking Services’ profits could buy 8,000 bus passes, presumably at the City of Regina’s standard-student rate.

In fact, the administration and URSU both told the Carillon they are in communication with the City of Regina in order to improve public transit. Button maintains the administration’s talks with the City of Regina to improve transit services still involve the hopeful creation of a universal campus transit pass, such as the proposed 2009 U-Pass, which failed when it came to referendum.

“There’s still an interest from the city and the city administration,” Button said. “But it’s the students’ choice on that.”

In the end, URSU and the U of R’s administration actually agree there’s a problem on campus; what they disagree on is where the responsibility lies for fixing it. The students’ union’s message to the administration is clear: deliver what you’ve promised and fix the inadequacies in parking and transportation before raising parking fines.

The administration’s message to the students’ union, however, is equally clear: the options are there and you can find ways to fix the problems yourselves.

With files from Martin Weaver.

Hit Us On Twitter

We asked our Twitter followers how satisfied they are with Parking and Transportation Services. Here’s what they had to say:

@cuethecarcrash
satisfied enough that I'm going in tomorrow to get a parking pass :)

@ShelbyLah
i don't drive but I am pretty sure that Luther won't be happy anymore

@PtheFunkman
definitely not

@sr_robinson
Better here than at the U of A that's for sure.

@ceemoreau
not very satisfied. Most student use M permits so why aren't there for spots for M? What's hotel guest parking for anyways..

@lexewen
I know people who have actually said, "no I can't take that class at that time because there will be no where to park!"

@nickfaye
Easy solution: Pass the UPASS, get students bussing more.

Want to weigh in on this issue via Twitter? Follow @the_carillon and tweet at us with #URParking.


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8 Comments

  1. Jenna September 8, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Not only are they raising the fines, but they are also refusing to sell anymore passes, which puts me severely out of luck, being a student that doesn't live in Regina and commutes everyday. I may be forced to DROP OUT this semester if they don't sell me a pass. I've never been more livid in my life. Can we take these injustices to the media or some shit?

  2. Aysia September 9, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Parking passes are available online with more than enough time to purchase them before the semester.  I have never been out a pass and have never waited in line.  Jenna I think it's less you will be forced to drop out because they won't sell you a pass, and more you will be forced to drop out because you don't have the ability to plan ahead for your semester.  I am 100% all for raising the fines and getting the illegal parkers out of spots that I have paid for.  Yes this is all a symptom of a larger problem but it is one step on the way to solving it.  The lots are full quite early but hey, that's just more planning ahead that students will need to do.  If I want to park in front of the doors of Luther (Lot 3), I am here before 8:30.  If I don't want to park there or I'm not here in time, I walk.  Big deal.  With the number of obese in this city the extra walking should be seen as a blessing.  Good on the U of R and Parking Services for the fine hike!!!!!!! :D

  3. Colin September 13, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    The thing that irks me is…
    Why am I walking through empty parking lots to get to school after paying over 200 dollars for a parking pass and not having anywhere to park?

  4. Alex September 14, 2011 at 10:54 am

    I agree wholeheartedly with Aysia. This is an excellent move by the administration. By not overselling M passes to the degree that has previously been done, and by increasing the fines levied against non-paying parkers, the administration is ensuring that those students who planned ahead and purchased the pass (as I do every semester) are able to park – at any time of the day.
    Previously, if you didn't have a class before 9AM, you would not get a spot except in the farthest parking lot. This, to my mind, is unacceptable. As someone who pays nearly $300 over two semesters, I expect to be able to find a parking spot – within reason – at any time of the day and near any building. 
    I am also very happy to hear that illegal parkers will now be fined more. Nothing frustrates me more than people who, having done the math, have determined that it is more cost-effective to park illegally (taking spots that other students have paid for) and risking fines than actually paying for a pass. That is simply not fair, and it devalues the parking pass that the rest of us paid for.
    For those students who are upset that they were unable to get a parking pass: tough luck. You had more than a reasonable amount of time to buy a parking pass during the summer, and since this is 2011 it's not unreasonable to expect people to simply go onto the UofR's (admittedly poor) website and order your pass via credit card. If you didn't do that – then perhaps you should reevaluate your university education – simple planning and time management is a cornerstone for success (and lack of such principled behaviour usually leads to failure).
    That said, I'd like to propose a compromised solution: the administration should create a new parking pass designation, and only allow those students to park at the farthest M lot (the one that is near the Research Dr. buildings). That parking lot is never full, and there would be more than enough space to accomodate several hundred more parkers (especially given that the usage requirements would be spread out over the course of different schedules and class times).
    While I admittedly applaud the URSU for taking a stand for something that actually concerns students for once (as opposed to the often radicalized leftist pursuits that are undertaken), the URSU would do well to work with the administration to find a proper compromised solution (like the one I have proposed above), instead of vilifying the administration. It was likely due to complaints like mine that the administration made these parking decisions  – and from everyone I have talked to the parking situation has improved dramatically for those that had the foresight to actually order a parking pass in a timely manner. 
     
    Regards,
     
    Alex

  5. Steve TheBartender September 15, 2011 at 4:18 pm

     
    The sun is shining the birds are chirping. Not a bad day, considering you just dropped 2k+ on tuition, parking pass, books, etc…. Its also the first semester you decided to move out of the jail cell of a dorm room and move off campus and drive to school.  Life is great.  On your way to school you stop for gas and the attendant fills your tank when you only asked for $10 and comps the rest of the gas.  Free Gas = Awesome.  Can this day get any better?  You get to school.  Time to park your car….. You weave between row after row of occupide parking stalls, searching for a vacant stall like some sick game of musicial chairs.  Wait! What parking lots is this?? M?? P?? Where the fuck are you supposed to park your car???  O Wait?  this is last years parking pass…. Here it is…. Fuck You Right???  P!! Where are you?  Luther!! .. fack… So now you are back circling in the farthest lot from school searching for open stalls like vaulchers circling wounded Las Vegas tourists lost in the desart after a hard night of debauchery best left unmentioned.  Finally!! One fucking stall opens up in the middle of the row.  suddenly it gets quiet. too quiet.  you look to the opposite end of the lot. two headlights glare back at you.  You floor it!!! speed down the row and slide into the spot just before you realise it was just parking services that you just flipped off while cutting into the open spot.  But you'd be surprized if the geriactric pick didnt even see you.  It was the same old man you saw using a flash light to read your license plate while gave you a parking ticket yesterday afternoon when you parked in one of the two hanicapped spots because you thought to yourself "Its cool, you can park at least nine wheel chairs in the other spot" and showed up to class late because it took you 30min to find the only "Open" (handicapped) spot on campus.  So now you sit inside your car some what happy with yourself for finding a parking spot.  You grab your books. Exit the car and You hear someone call your name.  You turn and look and its your neighbor and is waving at you from his front step because he doesn't have class until 2:30pm. And now it dawns on you and you realise that you should have just walked to school in the first place and not burnt a quarter tank of gas looking for a spot……. after the mile walk to your class you notice open spots now in your lot that matches your pass.  This Parking is bull shit by the way if you havn't mentioned that yet.  So you finally get to class and you find out all you missed was the 30 pages of handouts that every school since you were 5 gives you on the first day. And now you have to go move your car………. fuck.
     
    Steve TheBartender  

  6. Saskboy September 16, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    I'm looking forward to the parking forum next Friday.

    There are many options available to those who must drive and the vast majority who can get to the UofR by other means. There's walking, jogging, boarding, skating, canoe, carpooling, car sharing, cycling, motorbike, and pogo stick as options. If you insist on owning a car or using your parents', you can park at the Centre of the Arts and walk 10 minutes to campus – FOR FREE. Ask for a loonie shuttle bus to and from SIAST and the Centre of the Arts, if the numbers 3 and 4 bus don't cut it for you (and they probably don't, because they run too infrequently to be handy).

  7. Helen September 23, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Well Maybe Jenna's example wasn't the best.  Let's use my example of being VERY organized and planning ahead and still finding myself screwed out of a parking pass.
    I planned ahead and put my name on the list for Z electrified parking in JULY.  I've always got my Z parking and didn't find it necessary to purchased an M pass on top of my Z request (since I've always got a pass for requesting it so early).  Well, Sept 5th I get a call from parking services informing me they decreased the number of Z spots available for students and are reserving these spots for the residents.  Did they not realize this sooner and have the decency to tell me this BEFORE  September?  Well by this point M parking was sold out and I got fucked in the butt.
    Clearly being organized does not guarantee you a spot either…..

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