Students are back in class, but their biggest concern might not be their homework. The construction of new utilities under University Drive has cut access to the road and removed approximately 160 parking spaces by closing parking lot E near the corner of Summit and McGill, causing congestion problems along TRU’s remaining roadways and making parking difficult.
Construction started in April and is likely to continue into October.
While many students were under the impression construction started later than it actually did, some were left wondering why TRU didn’t push harder to finish in the summer.
“I don’t know the exact reason why the construction is happening now, but it would have made so much more sense to get most of it done in the summer when we aren’t going to be that busy here and parking won’t be an issue,” said Gregorson Mahon, a second-year TRU student. “I got here at ten yesterday, and I couldn’t believe I was actually able to find a spot. I eventually found a spot near the arts building. I got lucky, but it’s bad.”
Several other students shared Mahon’s sentiment, wishing that the university had planned better for the first weeks of classes. Some suggested turning the area behind parking lot N into a temporary dirt lot, while others hoped that the lack of parking would mean a decrease in rates.
Some students, like Chantelle Pigeon (third-year social work), questioned what she would do if she could not find parking.
“Honestly I’m not sure what I’d do, I’d probably park illegally. I don’t want to have to walk twenty minutes. It’s super frustrating, but it should have been dealt with better before school started,” she said.
Other students suggested that they would even skip class and return home if they couldn’t find space.
Though the university has suggested students make use of Kamloops’ public transportation or carpool with friends, this isn’t always convenient for everybody.
Yet despite the lack of parking on campus currently, vice-president advancement Chris Seguin said that not all lots are being used to their maximum capacity.
“Our permitted lots are at 60 per cent, so we have a lot of different options around parking. While our day-to-day lots are overwhelmed right now, there is a lot of capacity in our permitted lots. So we would really love students to look at that as an option for them,” Seguin said.
Seguin also suggested that students allow a little more time than they are usually used to for getting to class.
TRU has also been hard at work putting up signage indicating the capacity of each lot over the last few days, Seguin said.
“We are watching these lots every day, constantly. We have installed dashboards into our monitoring and we are actually trying to make those dashboards public to students, faculty and staff,” he said. “We can see each of the lots and how they are doing, whether they are over-prescribed or under-prescribed, and then we will alter our parking scheme to match the needs of students and staff.”
Despite the backlash, Seguin says that the upgrades will benefit the university for decades to come and greatly benefit TRU’s stakeholders.
“So while we tried to avoid it, they are necessary for all our stakeholders and we will try to get them done as soon as possible,” he said.