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London might have a campus parking shortage, but there's no shortage of complaints

At Fanshawe College, there are 13 students to every one parking spot. At Western University, it's even worse at 20 to one. While London campuses might have a parking shortage, there is no shortage of complaints.

Both Western University and Fanshawe College say they're sold out when it comes to parking passes

London has a campus parking shortage 0:52

Each day, a sea of cars converges on the sprawling asphalt that surrounds Fanshawe College and, on most days, the lot is brimming with vehicles. 

"It's all always, just full. There's no spots ever," said a frustrated Mirika Michelle, setting her tea on the trunk of her car before hastily gathering her things to start her shift on-campus. "I'm late for work."
Mirika Michelle says the parking lot surrounding Fanshawe College becomes so inundated with cars that it's hard to find a parking space. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

At Western University, it's a similar situation. Even at Huron Flats, a parking lot that has historically been one of the cheapest on campus because of its remote location, is overflowing with parked cars gleaming in the sun. 

"Parking in here is pretty scarce, I had to drive a lot to find this spot," said Western student Shannon De Vries, who pays $12 a day for the privilege of parking a 20-minute walk away from her class at University College. 

"I actually tried to get a parking pass for this semester and they're sold out."

Parking passes sold out

Each day, a sea of gleaming cars surges into the parking lot at Huron Flats at Western University where students who don't have passes can expect to pay up to $12 a day. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

In fact, parking passes at both Fanshawe College and Western University are sold out.

Fanshawe issued 2,100 parking passes this year, while Western issued 2,300. The university says it will even sell more passes than it has spaces available to accommodate the fact students won't use their pass every day.

This year, the university has sold 30 per cent more passes than there are parking spaces, but the school says it typically doesn't let that number rise above 35 per cent. 

It means most students are left scrambling for whatever is left. At Fanshawe College, with 43,000 part-time and full-time students and only 3,200 parking spaces, that's a ratio of 13 students for every one parking spot. 

At Western, it's even worse. The university estimates it has 37,000 students and only 1,780 spaces, a ratio of 20:1.

The cost of convenience

Western student Kurt Lodige wasn't able to get organized before the school's parking passes were sold out. He estimates he'll now have to shell out double the cost in hourly parking rates. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

Western student Kurt Lodige was one of the thousands of students who missed the Sept. 5 deadline to pick up a parking pass and is left scrambling to find whatever spot is left before getting to class. 

Lodige pays $12 a day, which he estimates will cost him about $1,000 per semester, almost double the $530 it costs for a parking pass. So why doesn't he take the bus?

"If it serviced Byron properly, then yeah, sure," he said. "It takes me 15 minutes to drive here. To get to the bus stop, it takes me a 25-minute walk. So it's the cost you pay for convenience."

For Fanshawe students who attend class inside one of the college's new gleaming high rises on Dundas Street, which is still being transformed into Dundas Place, convenience is a matter of perspective. 

Many parents of students take advantage of the city's Honk Mobile app, by loading up their children's accounts, according to Annette Drost, the manager for enforcement of parking and licensing in the City of London. 

"We're hearing this from a lot of parents, they say it's fantastic," she said, noting Honk Mobile is also used in many GTA suburbs, where many of the students' parents live. 

School of hard knocks

While some students use the City of London's Honk Mobile app to park at Fanshawe College's new downtown campus, others avoid driving downtown altogether. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

For others, it's more convenient not to drive at all.

"I don't drive downtown because of the construction," said Mari Shimamura, who typically takes the bus.

Her friend, Ciera Barton, depends on public transit too and she said she has friends at Western who are already regretting the fact they brought their cars to school. 

"They're now carpooling because they don't want to both pay for their cars to be there," she said. 

If you think about it they did go to school to earn an education and when it comes to parking, the lesson is learned the hard way pretty quickly, according to one parking enforcement officer at Fanshawe College's main campus.

"It takes about two weeks to train them, after that, they don't drive everyday," he said. 

About the Author

Colin Butler

Video Journalist

Colin Butler is a veteran CBC reporter who's worked in Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and London, Ont. Email: colin.butler@cbc.ca