By Mary Chan
In addition to registration and tuition, the beginning of school brought another headache to University of Calgary students: parking. Students have approached the Students’ Union with complaints, which SU Vice-president External Nassr Awada says is normal.
"Parking has always been a problem," said Awada. "There’s always been a high demand. I’ve had students talking to me about Parking Services and the 10 a.m. rush. It’s pretty much packed from 9 a.m to 1 p.m., at the latest."
"No matter what lot you go to, there’s always a wait," said third-year Humanities student Louis Morales. "It’s kind of a hassle. I usually get dropped off because I don’t want to wait around to get into parking lots."
Ancillary Services Director Peter Fraser defended the U of C parking system, saying to judge parking by the first few weeks is misleading.
"It’s a combination of people who were still feeling their way and also adjusting their times of coming," he said. "We’re always vulnerable the first few weeks. We always seem to have a lot of extra people on campus, be they doing different programs out of MacHall or lots of visits. We have a lot of parents on campus the first couple of weeks."
Fraser added that last week’s cold snap contributed to traffic congestion.
"When that happens early, people that normally park at McMahon Stadium or take the bus come to campus with their cars," he said.
According to Fraser, lots 10, 12 and 32 usually fill up at 9:45 a.m. and 10:45 a.m., and people who come before 9:30 a.m. or after 11:30 a.m.
usually get a space within five minutes.
However, some students still experience difficulty at 8:00 a.m.
"I have 8:00 [a.m.] classes, but it’s still really crappy because of the Scholar’s Advantage in lot 10," said first-year Dance and Kinesiology student Tyla Hickey. "If you get there just in time for 8:00 [a.m.], it’s hard to find parking."
According to Fraser, full signs only go up 112 to 120 days of the year.
"It’s hard to justify building more parking when we’re only full for that many days and only for literally, in total, less than an hour a day," he said.
Awada feels the university should address the increased volume from higher enrolments each year.
"The more students they let in every year, they should be increasing proportionately the parking available to the students," he said.
Parking services expanded its lots by 1,000 spaces in the last three years by redrawing spaces and medians, but Fraser says there is no more green space on campus.
"The next major lot we’ll build will probably be a decking system where we build overtop," he said, adding it probably won’t happen this year. "We believe that when the university adds at least one of the two proposed new buildings, the volume will justify that type of thing."
Though many students also complain about the lack of additional $1.50 parking (which currently only exists in lot 10), both Awada and Fraser say the U of C is one of the cheapest schools to park at across Canada.
"We’re extremely cheap," said Fraser. "[The cost of] parking has not gone up in five years."
"At the U of A, the average is $5, while our most expensive parking is $5," added Awada.
Any students with complaints about parking can reach Peter Fraser at 220-7064.