University: ‘there’s still plent of parking available’
Complaints about parking availability are about as common to hear as frustration with lack of study space and general campus overcrowding.
However, while it appears difficult to find a space to park on campus, even for those with parking passes, this may be a misconception.
“We’re overselling but there’s still plenty of parking available,” remarked Sue Dawson, manager of parking and transportation resources at Wilfrid Laurier University.
Laurier oversells parking permits by approximately 20 per cent, based on the “transient nature of the campus,” a figure which is below provincial campus rates, according to Dawson.
Dawson doesn’t deny that it may be difficult to find a parking space in the campus core, which is where the majority of students, staff and faculty will look for parking.
“The core of campus is the most popular parking. [Northdale lot] has never been more than 25 per cent full,” she said, explaining that the university has monitored that lot in particular for usage.
“There is parking available, it just perhaps is not where people perceive they would like it to be.”
With about 250 spots lost with the closure of the lots around the construction site of the future Global Innovation Exchange building, Laurier moved to provide more space elsewhere.
The Northdale campus lot, located at the corner of Hazel St. and Hickory St., was expanded to fit 200 spots for permit holders and there is now additional parking on Regina St.
As these parking lots are located off-campus, some of the convenience is lost with longer walk times when compared with lots in central campus. With the majority of the Laurier campus fitting within a block, a five minute walk time is the expectation for most locations in the university.
According to Dawson, “a perception change and a culture change” are needed to adjust this mentality.
“A five-to-ten minute walk is not unusual for a campus,” she added.
Parking lots outside of campus are likely to be a more common feature as the university continues to grow and develop. Part of the aim is to make campus more pedestrian-friendly.
Dawson continued, “I think we need to start to make a culture shift in getting people to park their car and leave it and walk to campus and keep the core of campus more for academics and services.”
Where these lots would go is difficult to determine right now. A future parking garage could also be a possibility.
“We’ve got a few different options and that’s part of the overall plan that we’re working on right now. Picking where the key locations would be and how that integrates with the overall development of campus. So it doesn’t really make sense perhaps to push parking to the east side of campus if all development is going to the north,” said Dawson.
“It’s something that we are working together very closely with physical resources and the overall plan to make sure that when we do make the investment, it’s where people would like it to be.”