By Marshall Jones
Parking at UBC Okanagan has been challenging students for years but it’s about to get a lot worse as City of Kelowna gets out its ticket books and tow trucks.
The UBCO campus is across the highway from the airport—a long ways from town. If they don’t take the bus, some 7,000 students and faculty have to find space in parking lots for 2,700 vehicles. Most have solved the problem by parking on side roads, Penticton Avenue, Hollywood Road North or University Way. But that’s about to change as the City of Kelowna prepares to make way for snow plows.
“With the grade of John Hindle Drive, it is imperative that the road is clear so snow and ice equipment can get in there and do their job,” parking co-ordinator Stuart Evans said in a media release. “It’s also important so that cyclists can keep to the bike lanes without having to swerve into the traffic lane to avoid parked cars.”
He says a new parking lot due to open next month should be enough for the 75 or so vehicles parking illegally now. But Spencer Robins, who handles transit and parking issues for the UBCO Students Union, says the parking issue is much greater than that. Parking issues dominated a recent issue of the Phoenix student newspaper and the student union has 400 written complaints from students in just a couple of weeks.
“For the City of Kelowna to impose itself on the parking issues, it is only going to make the problem worse,” he says. “It is a University issue and if it isn’t within the bylaws, then something has to be done by the institution to create more parking.”
Plenty of students are commuting from West Kelowna and Vernon. What happens if their cars are towed while they are in class, he asks.
In past years, UBCO gave out more parking passes than it had spaces. This year, they gave out exact amounts but Robins said they weren’t given out fairly. Some were given to students who live minutes away while West Kelowna and Vernon students didn’t have a chance.
Gary Appleton is a former Mountie and now manager of security and parking for the institution. He says the university has made plenty of recent progress on parking, raising available stalls to 2,700 later this month from 1,680 last year and is trying to do more—more buses, car-pooling, park and ride, and motorcycle and scooter stalls.
“Parking is a very personal issue,” he says. “When you get a ticket, you get a little upset and you don’t say thank you for controlling parking. We are no different in that regard.”
He says recommended parking guidelines say provide for 20 per cent and they are well over that now.
But students are pretty vocal about issues and Robins says city involvement isn’t going to help.
“If they come in here with zero tolerance and started towing, it will make the problem escalate,” he says. “It won’t be taken out on the City of Kelowna, it will be on the institution.”
firstname.lastname@example.orgCity bylaws 'will only make parking problem worse' at UBCO