Parking problems continue in 2012

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Though students have expressed aggravation, relief is nowhere in sight

Sophie Long
News Writer

Students are complaining about the parking system at the University of Regina – not for the first time.

Last semester, students with concerns over on-campus parking aired their grievances at a public forum hosted by U of R president Vianne Timmons, who promised that the administration would set to work looking at how to turn student suggestions – which ranged from clearer parking pass application processes to organizing shuttle transit from an off-campus parking lot – into viable initiatives. However, the start of the winter semester looks more than familiar to those students left without parking passes in September. Winter parking passes sold out within 24 hours of going on sale Dec. 6, and while Parking and Transportation Services has implemented new practices to address some of the concerns student raised last term, those changes have left more students unable to park on campus.

Parking Services suggests a variety of options for students who did not obtain parking passes for the winter semester. First, they suggest parking at the metres around campus, which fill up shortly after 11 a.m. Secondly, it is recommended that students park in Lot 8, which has a daily maximum of $7. However, this lot fills up at around 11 a.m. on busy days, too – even on the nondescript Monday of this Carillon issue’s production, the lot was full before noon. The final option suggested is to park in the neighbourhood surrounding the university, which not only inconveniences students, but also the residents near the university; in a Nov. 4 letter to the Leader-Post, Hillsdale resident Thelma Russell wrote that she was “beyond annoyed with the habitual use by University of Regina students of our residental streets as their parking lot.”

This winter, Parking Services issued 2,700 parking permits, 100 fewer than last winter. The reduced number of permits sold this term is an attempt to ensure lots are not oversold. On campus, there are just under 2,000 M parking spaces, which means there are 700 people – just over a quarter of those with passes – who will potentially not get spaces. Because there are over 11,000 students at the university, these numbers mean that less than a quarter of the student population has a parking pass. However, not all students drive to the university –  some take the bus, others live close enough to walk, some cycle and some are dropped off and picked up.

Barb Pollock, vice-president of external relations at the University of Regina, suggests taking the bus or carpooling whenever possible, as it encourages environmentally friendly behaviour.

“We do work with [the City of Regina] continually on this, and we did have a change to bus routes because of working together and I know the city is very open to continue to work on the issues,” she said.

The struggle with parking is that the faculty at the university is unable to control what times the campus is busiest. Pollock pointed out the peak period for the university is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and unfortunately there are no guarantees for parking spaces. However, this explains the overselling of M permits.

“The fact remains that there is enough come-and-go, it’s not always going to hit everybody at the time they wish it, but there normally is enough space in lots for the pass holders and the public to park,” Pollock said.

Unfortunately, there are sometimes so many students on campus during peak times that the 2,000 M permit spaces are taken. And if the students who have a hallowed parking pass are unable to park, the students who were unable to get permits are unlikely to get even a metred space.

Jessica Bastiaanse, an art history student, drives with her sister, but their carpooling isn’t helping them get a space.

“I went to purchase a pass and no later than a week after they went on sale, and they were sold out,” she said. “Some of my friends in the same position have also found it frustrating to make it to class on time. I have been walking a fairly long distance in the cold weather, making my way through a neighbourhood in order to get to my class.”

She pointed out another problem with overflow parking heading to the neighbourhood nearby.

“The side roads have signs indicating that the maximum amount of time you can park is two hours, which makes it difficult for students that have over two classes a day.”

Paying for meters and parking tickets throughout the semester can amount to more than a parking permit, which can be hard on students’ wallets.

Pollock suggests the same alternatives as Parking and Transportation Services.

“Unfortunately, we all have the same alternatives, and that is to park off-campus, or take the bus, or carpool, which we would certainly like to encourage,” she said.

These solutions aren’t ideal, and with a growing student body, releasing fewer parking passes is not going to help resolve these problems.

While parking will probably always be an issue at the University of Regina, there are several plans that should come into effect shortly to alleviate parking problems.

A new parking lot is under construction on the south side of campus, which will create an extra 150 parking spaces, and is expected to be completed before the next school year begins. Similarly, a proposal for a multi-level parking lot has been created, which would come along with a new residence building and extra daycare spaces.

“On the master plan, we have a number of other parking concepts laid out for the next five, ten, fifteen years if we are successful [in] getting the residence project approved for funding this year,” Pollock said.

“I heard the other day that residence would be ready for occupancy – so I can’t presume parking, but that goes together – in summer of 2015.

For anyone interested in tracking the parking situation, there is a forum update on the Parking and Transportation Services website.

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