Nova Scotia

Dal puts parking plan in reverse

Dalhousie University has hit reverse on its plan to curb the number of campus parking passes it issues.
Dalhousie University says it will continue to sell parking passes over the next few weeks after long line-ups and frustrated students and faculty members. (CBC)
Dalhousie University has hit reverse on its plan to curb the number of campus parking passes it issues.

There were long line-ups and frustration when passes went on sale Monday. One professor even announced he was quitting over the issue.

Now, the university says it's lifting its cap on general parking passes.

V.P. of Finance and Administration Ken Burt admits the university created a panic when it changed parking rules a week before school was set to open.

"The lesson we learned in all this is that you can't make parking changes the week before school starts," said Burt.

The university is dealing with a chronic parking shortage — just 2,000 spots for 20,000 potential  users.

Last week, it unveiled a plan to reduce the number of general or so-called hunting passes, while hiking the price and issuing more reserve passes.

Burt said media coverage of the changes heightened awareness of the parking issue.

"What happened yesterday is we sold more parking passes than we did in two weeks last year," said Burt. "There was sort of a panic. You know, there's a shortage, so let's rush out and buy some up."

Parking situation 'huge stresser': prof

The university says it will undertake a space study in September to determine how many parking stalls are actually being used.
Professor Lynne Robinson was upset the university changed the rules without warning, and without solving the problem.

"Hassle is really not the right word. It's a huge stresser. You have to be at class on time, you have to be at meetings on time and when there's no place to park that just adds an enormous extra order of stress to people's busy lives already," said Robinson.

Robinson has tried taking transit from her home in Clayton Park, but she's weighed down with computer equipment, books, and student work, and has to transfer buses to get to the university.

She questions the university selling passes indiscriminately without distinguishing between those who live further away from the campus, or between those faculty and staff who are obligated to teach at certain times.

Burt said the university will be rethinking how it makes major changes to parking policies.

It's also talking to Halifax Regional Municipality about developing an employee bus pass, with the first 600 passes expected to be part of a pilot program starting this fall.

Throughout September, a space study is planned to see how many people are actually using parking stalls, Burt said. A waiting list has been created for the reserve lots if it's decided more passes can be sold.

Burt was unable to say how many general parking passes will be issued in the weeks ahead. He said it will be assessing the need.

The university said it is looking at the possibility of building a parking garage, but that would be years away.