Parking woes to worsen

As a city that recently surpassed one million people, Calgary is getting more and more big city problems, and one of them is the availability of parking. Shortages are usually reserved for those who work downtown, but this time University of Calgary students will be feeling the squeeze.

As part of the U of C’s $1.5 billion expansion plan, the university has earmarked existing parking lots as sites for the construction of both the Dr. Fok Ying Tung International House and the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy building.

The new international residence will be built on top of lot 3, which is between the Rozsa Centre and the Dining Centre, while the ISEEE building will be built on an existing parking space located in front of the ICT building, just off of 32nd Avenue.

“There is no doubt that we will lose substantial parking area in the northeast area,” said U of C director of ancillary services Peter Fraser. “Lot 3 has also been an expansion site for 30.”

The loss of 160 parking spots in lot 3, and an unspecified amount on the site of the new ISEEE building presents a problem for current students, but it will likely get worse before it gets better, due to the U of C’s plan to create 7,000 new student spaces by 2010.

The university hopes to soften the blow by building underground parking or an attached parking building into the ISEEE building, noted Fraser, but plans are yet to be finalized.

“With the introduction of the U-Pass, the number of days per year when every lot on campus was full dropped from over 200 to less than 15,” said Fraser, noting the number of full-days this year is already nearing the total number experienced last year.

Fraser said the university is looking for alternate solutions to ease the parking crunch, such as expanding the U-Pass to include not only full-time students, but part-time students as well. Currently, part-time students are ineligible for the program. The idea is being developed in conjunction with a plan to increase the frequency of buses on routes through campus.

Another possible solution would be to implement a program similar to ones that already exist at some other North American universities. Cars around campus would be rented for a certain time period during the day. This would allow people who normally drive to take transit, since they would have a car available should something like a doctor’s appointment arise.

Though the program could be in place as early as next year, it will likely only be available to staff, due mainly to the exorbitant insurance rates students would need to pay, said Fraser.

Students’ Union president Emily Wyatt said the loss of current parking space may eventually force driving staff and students to look to alternate modes of transportation.

“That’s just one of the unfortunate things that happens with expansion,” said Wyatt. “We encourage students and staff to carpool, and encourage all undergrad students to make use of their U-Pass, which is already included in their tuition fees.”

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