The Battle of Downtown Parking (Melissa McGuffin)
It seems that the game of “musical chairs” is one that is played quite frequently in Brantford’s downtown core; except in this version, students are consistently moving their cars from parking space to parking space – and the cost of losing is a ticket. Although commuting students have their fair share of complaints about the city’s lack of parking spaces available to them, and the very limited amount of time allotted per space, the options available to them are very much present, and the concerns do not go without any attention to it.
With the growth and development each year at Laurier Brantford, the main concern of students is the limited amount of parking, and what will be done to help this problem. While there are around 950 spots available for $45 a month at the Market Centre parking plaza, there seems to be a lack of use for these spots.
Victoria Readings, a third-year Criminology student commuting from Brant County says, “I don’t pay for parking because I don’t feel safe in the Market Centre parking lot, therefore paying for a spot in there is useless, if not ridiculous. People have their cars keyed, broken into, and damaged in the parkade all the time. The lighting is terrible, and the security is scarce.”
Readings continued to explain, “Even student permit parking lots are inadequate. There are very few spots and even when you pay for a permit, you often cannot get a spot.”
Third-year Concurrent-Education student Amanda Censner said she had experienced getting a parking ticket in her first year while she was in class. The ticket cost was $20 and her usual parking spot, which was Laurier parking only, had been taken, forcing her to use the street parking. The Laurier parking allowed for students only is very limited, and at a first come, first serve basis.
Censner says that her main concern with Brantford parking is, “It is always so difficult to find a spot, and you usually have limited time to stay in that spot. This makes it difficult for when students have back-to-back classes because you always have to be concerned about moving your car and not getting a parking ticket.”
Students already pay the high cost of tuition, so the extra costs of ticketing should not have to be a worry, according to Censner.
Although the students of Laurier Brantford have no doubt raised the downtown core of Brantford up, the parking for businesses located downtown must also remain and also be kept in mind.
Transportation Technologist Robert Smith commented on how the students felt about the lack of transportation, “There’s plenty of parking in the Market Centre parkade, it’s just that students don’t want to pay for parking.”
When asked about the safety concerns of the parkade, he said, “It’s a valid concern, but whether one feels safe or not is objective, there are safety guards, safety cameras, and in regards to the lighting, it is being looked into and improved.”
Smith continued to say that the street parking is not intended for students, but rather for the people going about their days, and that is why there is so little time allotted for each spot. In regards to the growth of Laurier Brantford’s student body, Smith says that there are plans for another parking garage adjacent to the transit terminal that will be combined with it.
Heather Bouillon, Financial Coordinator at Laurier Brantford, feels there is sufficient parking to meet the student’s needs.
“This past year, we formed a Laurier Brantford Parking Advisory Committee, including two student representatives to look at how better to serve our customers. From this committee, came key changes, such as certain lots that are now exclusively for the use of students during the academic year.”
Bouillon also commented on the parking allotted to students only saying, “Of those that were successful in the lottery for on-campus parking, almost a quarter did not come in to pick up their permit. We will be surveying those who did not pick up their permit, which should provide some insight into why students opted out of campus parking.”
Bouillon also suggested the use of carpooling and buses to cut the cost of parking and get rid of the chance of parking tickets.
Although the concern of parking when it comes to students is valid, there are ways students can cope with it. The use of Foot Patrol can be used to walk to the Market Centre parkade if one feels unsafe in doing so, and any safety concerns can be discussed with the Special Constables. The future of student parking in Brantford’s downtown is hopeful.
Censner feels the same way, “I can already see a change as Laurier is making more parking available for students. If there are more spots available, it will make it less stressful for students who are commuting and are trying to get to class on time. So as long as they keep expanding the parking, it should make it easier for students who are driving to school.”
To the students shuffling from parking spot to parking spot, make your voices heard by complaining to the school, and help solve the problem. “Musical chairs” was fun in grade school, but it’s not fun to play with cars and tickets.