Parking on campus has become a hot button issue as some more popular and convenient lots close due to construction and others become controlled by TRU’s new and underused permitting system.
On Oct. 12, TRU hosted a parking update and Information session in response to staff and students’ negative reactions to this year’s parking changes.
The packed event saw many upset staff, faculty and students attend. Glenn Read, TRU’s director of ancillary services, said there are myths and misconceptions around the campus’ parking problems.
One thing that Read called a myth is that that all parking fees increased.
“Fifty-six per cent of our parking stalls are in our economy lot, Lot N, and in general lots which are scattered around campus. So, the majority of spaces that there are, haven’t had a price change,” Read said.
Read also said that it’s a myth that construction created the parking problem. He said that Lots E and A2 are out of commission, with a loss of 260 stalls. However, with the loss of these two lots, Lot N, which has been notorious for being mostly empty in past years, has picked up the slack.
“Construction didn’t create a parking problem. It has just sort of moved parking around campus,” Read said.
Lois Rugg, CUPE 4879 President, says that the removal of staff parking lots has been inconvenient not only for staff but also for students.
“Students likely want economy or general parking, and now a lot of the staff have to purchase those parking spaces. So we see some empty parking lots where staff formerly parked and that nobody can seem to afford and then the other parking lots that are full to the brim,” Rugg said.
The real-time spot counter at the front of Lot N was installed to help combat the influx of people now choosing to pack into the economy parking lot.
“That’s why we’re trying to put information on our TRU Go app, to help people to make their decisions. If you come in and you want to park in Lot N and you know it’s full, maybe at that point you check Lot W,” Read said.
The university plans to duplicate the spot counters at the entrances of lots U1, U2 and H, according to Read.
“I’m hoping sooner rather than later, but I can’t commit to a time,” Read said.
Read said that he and his colleagues are not blind to the issues being raised by faculty, staff and students but the change in parking was inevitable.
“There was a press for space and we had to prepare for the growth of this campus, the development of this campus,” Read said. “We’re trying to do the best we can, juggling our sustainability mission and our development issues with our expanding academic responsibilities. That’s our focus and we’re saddled with the chore of balancing it the best way we can.”
Lois Rugg said CUPE has offered up several alternatives and solutions to better improve upon the current parking system.
“Things like providing shuttles from further parking spots, particularly for persons that might have disabilities, reducing the fee. We have suggested that, based on your wage or whether or not you’re a student,” Rugg said.
The parking issues have been further hindered by the inconvenience of the road construction going on in the East Gate entrance and on the east part of University Drive.
The ongoing construction will wrap up in three waves, with the east gate part of campus gaining access at the end of October. The back side of Lot A is set to be completed by mid-November and the whole project set to be serviceable by the end of November.
Matt Milovick, TRU’s vice-president admin and finance, called the Labour Day deadline for the completion of road construction was a myth.
But the original notice of the construction, posted on TRU’s website on May 16, said that work was “expected to run until Aug. 18,” and notice that work had been delayed was not posted until Aug. 21.
“Of course, we would not want to have disruption at the start of the school year. But, at the end of the day we were beholden to (BC) Hydro’s schedule and Hydro dictates the terms of the schedule. We had to dig up the road to be prepared to receive the utilities and Hydro did their work, but it took them the time that it took them and it delayed us,” Milovick said.
“In a perfect world, we would have had it done but we never set that date as a target for ourselves because we couldn’t. We couldn’t wait either, because we had to get those utilities in the road,” Milovick said.