Parking Just Keeps Getting More Frustrating
Frustrations arise on parking, both on and off campus
Parking and Transportation Services at the University of Regina has sold 58 more parking permits this academic year than the previous academic year, when 2,327 total permits were sold. But, this year’s 2,385 permits as of September 4, 2013, have been sold in the context of reduced parking spaces due to construction of a new residence directly north of Campion College.
Parking Services spokesperson Pauline Tessier provides these numbers. She clarifies an additional 133 monthly permits have been sold for September. These are designated for the newly created Lot 17B beside the First Nations University of Canada.
In spite of the new parking lot and the increased permit sales, there are 208 less parking stalls available this academic year due to construction of the residence. On August 28, 2012, there were 5,253 available stalls; as of July 29, 2013, there were 5,045 available stalls. Tessier’s numbers clarify types of stalls affected: M permit stalls are reduced by 137; residence stalls are reduced by 109; stalls for university staff are reduced by 107; carpool stalls are reduced by 84; meters are reduced by 43; and handicap stalls are reduced by 2.
Tessier explains after the residence is completed, currently set for September 2015, 350 new stalls will be available: 150 stalls located in an underground parkade, and “approximately 200 surface stalls north of the new residence.”
Regardless of an eventual net gain of 142 parking stalls, students’ reactions to the immediate, short-term effects of the construction are notably varied.
Madeline Berry is a Science student who plays on the University’s Women’s Rugby 7’s squad.
She says, “this year is the first year I actually had problems with parking, because the passes sold out in August, which sucked. [In the past,] I usually went a couple weeks before school and [bought] passes.”
Berry states the construction “sucks,” but she thinks the residence is “good for the university,” especially the underground parkade, which will “free up [parking] spots for people in the city.”
For the short term, Berry wants the university to “step it up” and make more stalls available during construction of the residence. Over the long term, Berry wants “more lots near the classroom building, because there’s nothing on that side of the university.”
Alternatively, third year student Ashley does not purchase parking permits. Her perspective on the matter is shaped by her friends’ comments on and experiences with parking on campus. Despite being unaware of the university’s efforts to alleviate congestion on campus, Ashley notes a lot of her friends are “complaining” about a “lack of parking” on campus.
Ashley supports a parkade being built on campus, but she did not specify an underground or an above ground parkade. She thinks a parkade allows “everybody [to park] in the same place.” In her mind, a parkade creates equal parking opportunities for everyone. It also reverses the current state where some people have different parking advantages.
When Ashley compares her friends’ comments about parking this year with their comments from last year, she says parking is “more difficult,” because “an entire, huge parking lot has been taken out” due to the construction.
Third year Journalism student Eman Bare had to buy her parking permit earlier than usual because of the construction on campus. “I bought a parking pass end of July or early August; usually I wait until the first week of school.”
Bare feels the university failed to inform students about changes coming this academic year. Specifically, she cites three areas: the construction of a new residence without consulting students; the choice of location of the residence without consulting students; and the loss of a parking lot close to campus due to this construction.
To improve short-term effects, Bare wants the university working with the City of Regina to improve public transit. This includes adopting a “U-pass system” for buses, similar to the University of Saskatchewan. She also wants to see better busing within the city because she feels it takes too long to travel by bus within Regina.
The Carillon also interviewed a member of the University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU). Mike Young is the URSU Vice President of Student Affairs. Young’s write-up in the URSU Student Handbook states his role is “to oversee anything on campus relating to campus life, student loans, and academic life on campus.” Young further explains his role is “to work with other members of the [URSU] executive team to make sure that the union is doing all that it can to serve and represent students in an effective manner.”
The Carillon asked Young what URSU has done to support students with the increased congestion on campus, and the decreased number of parking spots because of the construction of a new residence. Young states “the board of URSU passed a motion setting aside money to look at the feasibility of building a parkade on campus. URSU has paid a company to do a feasibility study for us.”
Young explains the study will examine all possible locations on campus for a parkade, and if a parkade “makes financial sense.” Furthermore, he says URSU will know “how [a parkade] would be financed,” and particularly if a Private Public Partnership(P3) financing model would work.
Young prefers to go on this “fact finding mission,” a phrase he uses frequently, rather than “making a whole bunch of noise about protesting about losing parking spots.” Young states the feasibility study will “give [URSU] the authority to speak on issues of parking.”
When asked if the URSU has lobbied for students on the decreased amount of parking stalls, Young cited two points of action taken. He noted URSU Vice President of External Affairs Brooke Paterson is working with the city to improve public transit, because, as Young puts it, “it is not up to snuff.”
Paterson has been meeting with Mayor Michael Fougere on this issue. Young then cited the feasibility study as the second action URSU has taken on behalf of students.
The Carillon also asked Young about feedback received from students on a possible parkade two, three, or five years later. Young thinks “students understand parkades or parking lots just can’t be built overnight,” and that students “are as curious as we are to find out if [a parking structure] is something that’s a good idea.” Young attributes this curiosity to students being “sick of getting parking tickets, and sick of circling the university for half an hour.”
Young did not indicate when this feasibility study will be completed.
Beyond the activity and opinions of the university, it is important to remember the community and residents adjacent to the campus. Sheldon and Sarina Clark live on McNiven Avenue, four hundred meters of which run perpendicular to the university and to Wascana Parkway. The couple sees the effects of increased student parking on a daily basis; they live right next to it. The couple moved to the area in the early 1980s from Manitoba. Both are supportive of students parking daily on their street, in front of their house; they support students’ objectives of getting to class as quickly and easily as possible.
Yet, the couple remains frustrated that the City does not improve parking conditions on their street – currently, a driver can park on either side of the street for a maximum of two hours in designated parking areas that total a length of 400 meters. The Clarks want the city to extend the allowable parking time for students, and to disallow parking on one side of McNiven. This second demand comes from concerns over dangerously narrow congestion down the street, especially during winter months.
When the couple was told about the URSU’s feasibility study for a parkade, they scoffed at the idea.
Sheldon argues a parkade should be assigned to Engineering students. A similar assignment was given to his classmates when he was completing an Engineering degree at the University of Manitoba. Sheldon says such a project would save money and provide students with valuable experience.