By: Tony Davis
Itâ€™s minus thirty. The dead of winter. You have a 10 am class. You barely got out of the evening lectureÂ the night before. The beater mom and dad chipped in on is barely skating up University Ave. Maybe youÂ are running a little late for class or have an important meeting and no matter where you turn, there isnâ€™tÂ a parking space in sight.
There are parking meters near Don and Marion MacDougall Hall where second year student Chandler Toombs has aÂ lot of classes. Sometimes there are broken meters.
â€œMe and a few of my friends go out and check to see which ones are broken. If we find some, we try toÂ get to those so it’s a shorter walk.â€
Toombs has heard of other tricks students use to avoid a ticket. Some peopleÂ have simply not registered their plate and the school has fined them but weren’t able to collect, he said. If you are caught not paying tickets, it can hold you back from graduation.
People have gone to extraordinary lengths to manipulate UPEIâ€™s parking.
Mark Pharand has been Manager of Security Services at UPEI for the last three years. Pharand says that people have tried to makeÂ counterfeit parking passes in the past, but the department has caught. They issue ticketsÂ through the university as well as summary offence tickets like the ones issued by the city.
â€œWe will boot a vehicle, it is a friendly nudge.â€
The person will have to pay to get the lock removed from their wheel. Itâ€™s the final step before the university considers towing an offender, Pharand said.
UPEI parking issues have been well documented in the past, from the tragic loss of 100 parking spaces when theÂ Engineering building was erected, to the 56 new spots announced in 2016. Still students have issuesÂ finding places to put their vehicle on campus.
Toombs doesnâ€™t think the ticketing is fair. When some spots are filled up, some people will makeÂ their own parking space on the grass. Those people are ticketed.
â€œItâ€™s pretty chaotic. Last year I got my pass early. Itâ€™s $118 and it doesnâ€™t guarantee a spot, because a lotÂ of the time it will fill up.â€
Early in the morning it is easy to get one, but arrive any later than 10 amÂ and you are left searching, he said. Some people are left parking at businesses like the Atlantic SuperstoreÂ and walking to campus.
There are 1140 non-metered parking spaces at UPEI.
â€œWe sell passes for the non-metered areas which are general parking spaces, in four parking lots.”
The passes sell out every year, Pharand said.
In 2017, there were roughly 5649 faculty, staff and students working or studying at UPEI. With only 1140 non-metered parking spaces, roughly 20% of of the UPEI community can have access to parking at any given time.
This is complicated by the fact that the university oversells parking passes.
It’s an industry standard to oversell parking by a small amount, Pharand said.
“We use an industry norm. You look at the amount of parking available at a specific location, the norm isÂ to oversell by a certain percentage.â€
UPEI oversells by a small percentage because not all the population is here all the time, he said.
â€œIt tends to work well when you have great scheduling, thatâ€™s the accepted practice. What we also offerÂ here is the T3 bus service, it can get people to and from campus. We also encourage carpooling.â€
Pharand wasnâ€™t specific about the actual percentage UPEI oversells.
However, the industry norm is to oversell by 20 to 30 per cent.
Pharand says he expects over crowded parking lots to be less of an issue this year.
â€œThe issue we had in the past, which has been much better this year, is we had quite a load of studentsÂ here on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That was recognized by the Registrarâ€™s Office and they did a great jobÂ trying to spread the course load over the week.â€
Third-year nursing student Sarah Hilvers says parking continues to be an issue.
“Parking is definitely as hectic as it’s been in previous years. I consistently come to class 20 minutes early to get a spot before everything fills up.”
Hilvers adds that as a nursing student, her schedule is too sporadic to rely on alternative options such as carpooling or transit.
Pharand welcomes anyone who has any concerns to get in contact with security services.
â€œWe are always trying to ensure everyone has adequate parking, and if they donâ€™t they can always comeÂ to our office or give us a call.â€
If you have any experiences with parking that you’d like to share, email Tony at email@example.com or tweet @T0nyDavis.