Parking rates driven upwards for fall
Construction costs for Mount Royal’s new 1,200-stall parkade will see open lot parking passes increase by $75 for the fall semester to a rate of $180.
Under provincial law the college is not allowed to allocate any grant or tuition funds towards the $45-million parking facility and thus students and staff will cover much of the bill, says Mount Royal’s manager of parking & transportation services Stefan Durston.
“The bottom line in all of this is we really have more cars than spaces available,” Durston said. “If people would like to park here that’s the price. It’s not just students that are impacted, employees don’t like the price either.”
Also new this year, the college will introduce a three-tier parking permit system. Employees who currently have a permit for the parkade in the Roderick Mah Centre will be given priority for an annual parkade pass costing $1,080. Another option for employees is a gated lot permit for $780 annually. All other students and staff wishing to purchase a permit will buy an open lot pass for $540 annually or $180 per semester.
“We have worked very hard to treat everyone wanting to park at the college fairly,” Durston said. “There is no longer such thing as a student permit or a staff permit. We actually believe many employees will benefit because they can now park in an area closer to where they teach.”
Residence parking will be included in the open lot tier and be available to everyone regardless of whether they live on campus. Daytime recreation passes will also be eliminated.
Durston explained that the new system intends to address problems associated with fewer parking spaces as lots V1 and S7 will be closed during parkade construction, forcing the college to sell 1,500 less permits for the fall. He said the parkade will not be completed until September 2010 at the earliest.
“It’s definitely going to get worse in the short-term because our supply is going to decrease even further. No question, next year is going to be tough,” he said.
For more information on the new parking rate system click here.
Cassandra Hansen, a Bachelor of Applied Business Admin student at Mount Royal, was quite disappointed when she learned of the parking rate increase.
“I was admittedly a little taken aback, I certainly did not expect it to go up this much,” Hansen, who is heading into her fourth year in the fall, said. “Many students have been here supporting this school for years by paying tuition and paying our fees and now that the school is growing I feel like we are being put aside.
“I think there should be some kind of break given to us because many people, like myself, are almost done and will never see or use much of this expansion.”
Hansen plans to live on campus in the fall and is concerned about finding a parking space now that anyone with an open lot pass can park in the stalls previously designated for residence students.
“I am really worried about having access to my car because my family lives out of town. I just ended up paying for a brand new car and now may not have a parking stall near my house. It’s kind of ridiculous,” she said.
Durston said it’s simply not fair to give preferential treatment to those living in residence as many students and staff travel far distances to the college each day.
“Just because you live in residence does not guarantee that you get a parking spot,” he said.
Robert Jones, the new VP external for the SAMRC, said issues surrounding residence parking are nothing new as many students raised concerns to him on the campaign trail last March.
“I’m not sure that every student is aware of the complexity of this problem,” Jones said. “As part of our job serving students we need to make sure they understand the over-arching dynamics of parking at the college.”
Jones highlighted parking as a top-priority issue during his election campaign, stating that a multi-faceted approach is needed that offers incentives for students who utilize alternative transportation methods. Students are required to pay $80 each semester for a Calgary Transit U-Pass that allows them unlimited bus and C-Train use.
Durston encouraged students to drive their vehicles to school only when absolutely necessary, noting that a day pass for lots A and B can be purchased for $4. Furthermore, students and staff who only park at the college on evenings or weekends can buy a pass at a reduced price of $72 per semester or $216 annually. Students can also purchase a pass for the S10 lot located across the street in the Currie Barracks for $160.
“I anticipate that alternate options like the day lots will be used a great deal more now, which really helps to reduce congestion in the main lots,” Durston said.
As for obtaining space for additional parking and buildings, Durston believes the college has exhausted all options in the nearby vicinity of the college, noting that the Garrison Woods housing project located next to the Currie Barracks is already underway.
“As the college continues to expand and more buildings are constructed they are likely going to be built atop existing parking spaces as it is really the only option available,” he said. “Once the parkade is built it will solve the problem for the time being but is not the ultimate solution.”
Durston explained that despite the increase Mount Royal’s parking rates are still relatively cheap when compared with other local post-secondary institutions like SAIT and the University of Calgary. He anticipates parking passes selling out before the first day of fall classes as they did last year.
Fall parking passes go on sale July 2 for credit students and Aug. 15 for non-credit students.
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