University to reinstate parking fees starting November 1
In an October 22 email from Student Affairs, the University of Regina announced that they would be reinstating on-campus parking fees, which have been suspended since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. The university said that the fees would be reinstated in a two-phased approach. Fees for underground parking and all visitor parking, including visitor lots and metered spaces, will resume on November 1. Fees for parking on surface lots M and Z (no plug-in and plug-in) will resume on January 1, 2021.
According to the email, the campus has seen increased use of the parking facilities over the
past few months and anticipates they will see more in the months ahead. According to the email, “parking is an ancillary service the University provides on a user-pay basis. Those paying to park on campus are paying for parking infrastructure (lot development), maintenance, snow removal and enforcement.” In an email to the Carillon, U of R Public Affairs Strategist Everett Dorma said that “anyone who has been to campus lately will have noticed a higher number of vehicles parking in public areas as well as in lots M and Z.” Only about 600 students are registered for in-person courses this semester, so the majority of those parking on campus are faculty, staff (which includes student workers), and researchers. Dorma said the university hopes to provide more in-person courses next semester, however the university still anticipates few students will be on campus for classes in Winter 2021.
Dorma said that the university is “cautiously projecting” $400,000 in revenue from reinstating the parking fees which will go towards the projected budget shortfall of $13.5 million, around $4 million of which is from foregone parking revenue. While the decision to reinstate parking fees is perhaps understandable from the perspective of the university, the financial consequences for those who have been parking on campus – many of them workers who are on campus because they cannot afford to stay home during a pandemic – as well as potential environmental consequences are worth taking into account. Given that the U-Pass has been cancelled and the cost of a bus pass for students is now the same price per month as an M lot parking pass, those with access to vehicles may choose to drive rather than take the bus, lowering their risk of exposure to Covid but putting more vehicles on the road. There are no easy answers to these problems, but it seems like now is the time for the city and the province to be digging deep to ease the financial burden on public institutions, rather than public institutions calling on the public to ease the burden on them.