EDIT August 24: There has been a change in how passes for the Dunn parking lot will be administered. Please read the note from Ken Burt at the end of the story for more information.
EDIT August 25: The draw for Dunn passes is now complete and those selected have been contacted. Details at the bottom of the story.
Dalhousie’s parking challenges are leading to changes in how parking passes will be managed this fall.
The university has been working with consultants from IBI Group on a transportation demand management (TDM) study, assessing what infrastructure Dal needs to support its community in getting to and from campus, whether by car, mass transit, bike, or foot.
Though IBI’s report is not due until the fall, it was brought to Dal’s attention recently that there has been a significant and growing variance between the number of general parking passes sold and the number of spaces available to those drivers. Though the university has traditionally oversold passes to allow for people that come and go throughout the day, that oversell rate had reached unsustainable levels: upwards of 65 per cent by the school year’s end.
“That’s an unacceptable number, creating an expectation of service that we couldn’t deliver on – it’s no wonder that many faculty, staff and students felt the stress of finding parking last year,” says Jeff Lamb, assistant vice-president of Facilities Management. “Upon learning this, we immediately asked our consultants to start considering measures we could put in place this fall, ahead of their full report, to help remedy the situation.”
"We need to make parking more efficient, sustainable transportation more convenient, and consider new ideas that can help get our students, faculty and staff to where they need to go.” - Jeff Lamb, Facilities Management
What’s being implemented in response is two-fold: a commitment to cap sales of the general parking passes at a manageable number, and changes in the university’s parking lots to provide more support for those who want dedicated parking as well as short-term parking.
Dunn to become ‘reserved lot'
In what will be a new choice for those looking for reliable parking, the university will be changing the Dunn lot to a ‘reserved lot.’ A Dunn parking pass, purchased at the reserved parking rate of $576 for the year, will allow for parking in almost all of the 212 spaces in the rectangular lot between the Dunn building and Fountain Hall. Previously, 184 of these were for general parking.
“By doing this, we hope that we will both provide an attractive option for some drivers and alleviate some of the strain in the demand for general parking,” says Mr. Lamb. “Last year, because of the oversell, we had a lot more people expecting parking on campus than could actually make use of it. That isn’t ideal for anyone.”
Though the reserved lot will represent an extra cost for those who upgrade from a general pass, Mr. Lamb expects that the convenience will be worth the price for some, particularly employees who work at that end of Studley campus. He adds that the price is still less than the amount the university pays for maintenance and snow removal—which can be more than $1,000 per space each year—and far less than the going rate for parking in downtown Halifax.
New meters to support short-term parking
The university will also be adding new meters on campus, addressing an identified need for more parking to support short-term, task-focused visits to campus. The key targets for these meters will be the area around the Henry Hicks Building, and spots by the Memorial arena.
“We have major offices at the Henry Hicks building that students, in particular, need to use: the Registrar, Student Services, Student Accounts, and more” says Mr. Lamb. “But there’s also payroll, HR and other places that staff and students alike may have short-term business that’s better addressed with meters than with taking up general parking places.”
Another change this fall will be at the Dalplex lot: 20 spaces that are presently “Gold” spaces for Dalplex members will become general parking spaces that can be utilized by those with a general parking pass. There will also be nine new metered spaces.
Making general parking more reasonable
As for general parking, the university plans on returning to a more reasonable oversell rate of between 20 and 30 per cent. In doing so, the hope is that those with a general pass will see their experience improve this fall.
“We simply don’t have the space for everyone who wants to park at Dal to do so at present,” says Ken Burt, vice-president finance and administration, who cites the rising cost of housing in Halifax as a factor in driving more and more of the Dalhousie community off the peninsula. ”Even without the growth that we’ve had in our student population, we’d still be facing a parking problem.”
Read more: "Improving parking and transportation at Dal: An in-depth look"
“We recognize that our transportation infrastructure isn’t where it needs to be, and that’s what the transportation demand management study, stemming from our campus master plan, is all about. We expect to have a lot of possible improvements coming out of the study, but our immediate priority is making parking more manageable for this fall.”
Considering all options for the future
Passes will be available to all eligible members of the Dalhousie community. The university is encouraging those with convenient access to other forms of transportation—such as mass transit, cycling or walking to campus—to consider taking advantage of those rather than purchasing a parking pass.
Students, in particular, are encouraged to utilize their UPass. All full-time students at Dalhousie get access to Metro Transit’s buses and ferries throughout the school year. The university will also be installing 100 new bike racks on campus this fall for those who cycle. The university is also investigating a possible ‘park and ride’ option that could use the Tiger Patrol vans as shuttles to transport some students, faculty and staff during the day.
"We recognize that our transportation infrastructure isn't where it needs to be...we expect to have a lot of possible improvements coming out of the study.” - Ken Burt, VP Finance and Administration
Longer term, there are a number of proposals being investigated as part of the TDM process, from the building of a new parking structure, to a possible shuttle service in cooperation with the hospitals and other Halifax universities, to a bus pass program for staff and faculty that that Dal would trial with HRM possibly as early as January.
But as for this fall, the goal is to be better at managing Dal’s existing transportation resources and to prepare to implement a more comprehensive transportation management process over the next year.
“We want to make it easy for people to get to and from campus, but ‘easy’ can’t just mean ‘more people bringing more cars and parking wherever’ anymore; we need a better system,” says Mr. Lamb. “We need to make parking more efficient, sustainable transportation more convenient, and consider new ideas that can help get our students, faculty and staff to where they need to go.”
Parking passes go on sale starting Monday, August 29.
Updated information on the Dunn lot; a message from Ken Burt, Vice-President Finance and Administration
Thanks to all those who’ve offered their thoughts and feedback on the parking changes this fall. Particularly, I wish to thank those who voiced concern about how the application process for the new Dunn reserved spaces was handled.
While we sought to coordinate the announcement to the best of our abilities, it’s clear that the speed and volume at which the passes were requested meant that not everyone had a fair shot at receiving a pass based on a first-come, first-served system.
It’s important that our processes be fair. Instead of using a first-come, first-served method, we are going to hold a draw that will provide everyone who applies the same opportunity to receive a pass.
In addition, the application period for a reserved space in the Dunn lot will be extended until Thursday, August 25 at 4 pm.
Everyone who has already applied — and who will have applied by the deadline — is included in the draw automatically. As a reminder, all requests need to specify the Dunn parking lot, and the address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is important to note that if you have previously applied for a reserved parking space elsewhere on campus, you will still need to write and request a place in the Dunn lot, since the wait lists are managed by location.
Following the draw, those who are eligible to purchase a Dunn reserved pass will be notified on Friday, August 26. The draw will also create a waiting list of the remaining applicants in case any spaces become available. Note that like all reserved parking passes, a Dunn pass is only good for the Dunn lot, and not general parking on campus.
General pass sale
Those who are not selected are able to apply for a general parking pass as scheduled, starting on Monday, August 29 at 7 am.
We apologize for this situation and hope that this new system will offer a fair opportunity to a greater number of applicants. Should you have questions on this process please contact either Leigh Horne (local 1249) or Peter Brown (local 6500) in Security.
Again, my thanks to all those who brought this to our attention.
More specific questions can be directed to Leigh Horne at Leigh.Horne@Dal.Ca or 494-1249.
Vice President Finance and AdministrationUPDATE: AUGUST 25
All those whose names were drawn for a Dunn reserved lot permit have now been notified by e-mail or telephone. People are advised to check their messages. If you have not received a message, then you have not been selected for a spot at this time. As planned, the sale of general parking passes starts Monday at 7 a.m.
Dal News: "Improving parking and transportation: An in-depth look at the challenges and opportunities."
Facilities Management: Parking information (rates, rules and regulations)
Office of Sustainability: Transportation programs
U-Pass information: upass.dal.ca
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