UTM’s shortage of parking spaces on campus has caused complaints amongst students who have paid for parking passes, many of who are calling for more space and more reasonable fees.

Zainab Qureshi, a third-year Psychology student and UTM commuter, is one of many students becoming frustrated with the university’s parking situation. As a parking pass holder, she travels to UTM regularly for class but has told The Medium that she is “no longer guaranteed a parking spot.” Qureshi elaborates that while she never experienced issues with parking on campus in the past, this year has proven different.

“I’ve spent over $700 for a ‘maybe you’ll get a parking spot’,” she explains. “It’s unacceptable.”

Commuter students like Qureshi have voiced complaints at the lack of progress being made to alleviate the inaccessibility of parking on campus. She asserts that the UTM administration should be taking steps to resolve the matter.

“I believe they should have designated parking areas for people to pay-and-display. The rest for parking pass holders.”

She contends that the problem may also be linked to the high volume of students enrolled for the 2018-2019 school year. This year, UTM has enrolled over 14,000 undergraduate students.

“If the university knows that they plan on accepting more students, then they should have planned to add another parking lot.”

“If they can build an entire new building, they can add more parking,” she adds, citing the construction of UTM’s new North Building. The price tag of the new North Building was reported as $121.2 million according to a 2014 UTM Campus Council public agenda.

The 2018-2019 ancillary budget approved by the Campus Affairs Committee mandated a three per cent hike in parking permit prices, with the pay-and-display maximum increasing to $15 effective September 1st.

In a 2017 interview with The Medium, UTM’s former Chief Administrative Officer Paul Donoghue stated that the price increase would be used to repay the debt of the previous parking decks that were developed adjacent to the RAWC.

Other students, along with Qureshi, continue to raise their concerns to The Medium on the campus parking problem. Sasha McCaughey, a fourth-year Biology for Health Science major, echoed Qureshi’s dissatisfaction with the high cost of parking permits and the limited space to park.

“If you arrive on campus any time after 9 a.m., you’re guaranteed not to find anywhere to park. It’s annoying knowing that we need to pay hundreds of dollars for a spot that might not even be available by the time I get to campus for class.”

McCaughey says that she commutes into UTM almost daily and encounters the same the problem on nearly every occasion. “People pay a lot of money just to park and they show up to find every lot totally full. I shouldn’t have to stress out about finding somewhere to park at the start of my day when I have classes to get to.”

McCaughey also questioned the price of the parking permits, adding that they are “overpriced” and seemingly “worthless” given the difficulty of parking despite having one.

According to Megan Evans, Manager of Parking and Transportation on campus, the university has always sold more parking passes than there are available parking spots.

In an interview with The Medium, Evans stated, “Oversell is a common industry standard, and is practiced at most major universities and colleges.” Evans went on to say that because of the vary schedules of university students, they are required to be on campus at different times of the day.

“Not everyone will be on campus on the same days, during the same times,” continued Evans. “Because of this turnover, additional permits can be sold to maximize lot usage and service as many campus members as possible.”

The industry standard for overselling is generally twenty to forty per cent.

When asked about whether the parking office planned to expand available parking space in the near future, Evans stated that they were not, but “are considering various opportunities for expanding in about five years.”

“This is a topic that we review annually and discuss if and when this type of build could be feasible.”