Construction will reach into campus parking space

New campus developments are planned to be built on existing parking lots

Building Site B will contain up to 79 residential units. Parking for these units will be underground, but the number of student spaces the new buildings will take up is up to 170. (TRU Community Trust Request for Proposals)

Building Site B will contain up to 79 residential units. Parking for these units will be underground, but the number of student spaces the new buildings will take up is up to 170. (TRU Community Trust Request for Proposals)

Construction on new residential buildings on campus, set to start in the spring of 2017, can be expected to take away up to 170 parking stalls from students in Lot A behind Old Main – one of the busiest parking lots at Thompson Rivers University.

According to the Campus Master Plan implemented in 2013, there will be an extensive build-out of the campus for the next 60 years, with the first major development to be known as The Reach. The building projects will be a combination of academic buildings, residential housing and mixed-use facilities.

The decision to build on existing lots close to the campus core and push parking out to the fringes of campus has been a part of the plan since its inception, said Matt Milovick, TRU’s vice-president of finance and administration. It was a decision that was made by the planning committee that included faculty, staff and students, Milovick said.

“The idea was that once all this is built out, the university will have no more or no less parking stalls than what it has today,” Milovick said. “What we don’t envision as part of the master plan is adding more parking. What we want to do is maintain the number of stalls we had in 2013.”

Milovick believes this will have minimal impact, considering the amount of free spaces available on any given day, despite growing disdain from students with regards to the parking situation on campus.

Milovick does, however, recognize that the decision to move parking to the fringes of campus does come at the price of the “perceived inconvenience of people.”

In 2015, parking was one of four main areas of concern for students according to TRUSU’s Student Budget Consultation report. The report indicates that many of the respondents from the student population were concerned about the cost, the limited space available during peak times and that segregated staff and student parking was not an efficient use of space.

From this report, the TRUSU Student Caucus drafted a proposal to address student concerns and submitted it to the Parking Appeals and Advisory Committee, who in turn sent their own recommendations to the office of the VP Finance and Administration. TRUSU has not received any feedback since those recommendations were made in May 2016.

When asked about the recommendations, Milovick said his office will announce changes to parking in January and it will deal with the parking situation behind Old Main. Milovick said there has been no response to the committee’s recommendations or announcement of parking lot closures because they wanted to be sure the construction was going ahead.

According to the most recent request for proposals, the first development will be going on parcel E, site B, which is currently parking lot A, a student lot behind the Old Main and International buildings.

Due to construction operations, other areas of Lot A may be used as well, to store building materials, which may take up to 60 more stalls, Milovick said.

The loss of these parking spaces will be accommodated by the extra space in Lot N, behind the new student residence building.

“When we built Lot N, we added 142 spaces. We expanded Lot N anticipating this future development, so those spaces [being lost] have essential been replaced – mind you not as conveniently as people would like,” Milovick said.

Lot N now holds approximately 550 spots.

“I think [the development is] very exciting for TRU and this campus, it’s the realization of a vision that’s been on this campus for about ten years. There will be some short term pain around parking; people getting used to the idea that you’re not necessarily going to be able to park steps away from your building, but that’s part of the campus evolving,” Milovick said.