By: Tony Davis
It’s minus thirty. The dead of winter. You have a 10 am class. You barely got out of the evening lecture the night before. The beater mom and dad chipped in on is barely skating up University Ave. Maybe you are running a little late for class or have an important meeting and no matter where you turn, there isn’t a parking space in sight.
There are parking meters near Don and Marion MacDougall Hall where second year student Chandler Toombs has a lot of classes. Sometimes there are broken meters.
“Me and a few of my friends go out and check to see which ones are broken. If we find some, we try to get to those so it’s a shorter walk.”
Toombs has heard of other tricks students use to avoid a ticket. Some people 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 UPEI’s parking.
Mark Pharand has been Manager of Security Services at UPEI for the last three years. Pharand says that people have tried to make counterfeit parking passes in the past, but the department has caught. They issue tickets through the university as well as summary offence tickets like the ones issued by the city.
“We will boot a vehicle, it is a friendly nudge.”
The person will have to pay to get the lock removed from their wheel. It’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 the Engineering building was erected, to the 56 new spots announced in 2016. Still students have issues finding places to put their vehicle on campus.
Toombs doesn’t think the ticketing is fair. When some spots are filled up, some people will make their own parking space on the grass. Those people are ticketed.
“It’s pretty chaotic. Last year I got my pass early. It’s $118 and it doesn’t guarantee a spot, because a lot of the time it will fill up.”
Early in the morning it is easy to get one, but arrive any later than 10 am and you are left searching, he said. Some people are left parking at businesses like the Atlantic Superstore and walking to campus.
There are 1140 non-metered parking spaces at UPEI.
“We 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 is to oversell by a certain percentage.”
UPEI oversells by a small percentage because not all the population is here all the time, he said.
“It tends to work well when you have great scheduling, that’s the accepted practice. What we also offer here is the T3 bus service, it can get people to and from campus. We also encourage carpooling.”
Pharand wasn’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.
“The issue we had in the past, which has been much better this year, is we had quite a load of students here on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That was recognized by the Registrar’s Office and they did a great job trying to spread the course load over the week.”
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.
“We are always trying to ensure everyone has adequate parking, and if they don’t they can always come to our office or give us a call.”
If you have any experiences with parking that you’d like to share, email Tony at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @T0nyDavis.