Mt. A needs parking. Just a few weeks ago, my roommate and I were walking home from class when we came across a new sight in Sackville. Just past the large King Street parking lot, there was a commotion of vehicles, muddy trailers and large metal structures clanging together. This was the first time I had seen the Fall Fair in Sackville. My roommate and I had not realized that there was a large grass lot behind the King Street parking lot that could accommodate well over 30 vehicles. In addition, the presence of this festival blocked off multiple parking spots within the King Street lot to allow the trucks to pass through, causing the parking lot to be more congested than usual. This begs the question: is there room in our town for the Fall Fair to park, why is there no room for us to park?
Mt. A has eight designated parking lots across campus. Of the eight parking lots, six allow parking between 6 a.m. and 1 a.m. and two (King Street and Thornton/Edwards) allow parking between 6 a.m. and 3 a.m. Those with an overnight parking pass can park in either the King, Thornton, or Edwards parking lot. Problems arise when the only students able to acquire an overnight parking pass are those who occupy campus residences. Section 1.2 of Parking and Vehicle Access Policy 7605 on the Mt. A website states that residence students and guests may obtain an overnight parking pass. It also states that “others” may receive parking passes from either Facilities or Conferences. However, no definition specifies who the University is referring to when they use the term “others.” The University seems to use purposely vague language in its parking policy. The fact that only residence students can acquire an overnight parking pass is unfair to those living off-campus.
The town of Sackville has a limited quantity of street parking, and most of the street parking within the town are spots with a time limit imposed on them. For those of us living off campus, many of us worry that our cars will be towed or ticketed. In addition to paying these, at times, unavoidable tickets or tow truck fees, university students are already paying tuition plus living expenses. Unfortunately, leaving our cars at home for the school year is unrealistic for many of us. So, what other options do we have?
Most off-campus housing options in Sackville house two to five residents, but most of these options only contain one parking spot. In my case, I live with four other girls. We each have a car, and our unit provides one parking spot. The rest of us either have to vie for one of the four guest parking spots that are shared between over 50 people living in our housing complex, or are forced to park our cars in one of the lots where we risk being ticketed or towed because we are not eligible for an overnight parking pass. No parking is permitted on our street, and no other lots within a kilometre radius of us allow overnight parking. Of course, we do not want to park our cars in spots where we risk a fine, but oftentimes it is our only option. It is beyond frustrating and anxiety-inducing to check each morning on our walk to class if our car windshields are empty. It is not only my roommates and I who face this issue. Most off-campus students live in apartments or townhouses with one parking spot for the entire unit.
Parking has been a pervasive issue among off-campus students for years. Yet, there has never been a change to Mt. A’s parking policy. What can be done to solve this problem? Is the University willing to invest in more parking for its students or, at minimum, change their overnight parking pass situation? These are questions that need answers because we are all out of options.