SFU doesn’t need more parking lots

By Cedric Chen

In the recent debate regarding the new Student Union Building, it was suggested that it should reserve a space for building new parking lots. This may have been a good idea back in the 1990s and maybe even still in the 2000s, but now that we’re in the 2010s, that argument is running out of gas.

It doesn’t take a diploma or a certificate to understand that building more parking lots wastes space that could be used to build study spaces. There are indeed people complaining that the cost for parking is getting too high. However, compared to complaints about not being able to find a study space — and not just any space for studying, but a study space that can actually satisfy someone’s needs, complete with amenities such as power plugs — how often do you hear the complaints about parking spots? What we need is not a policy that binds new buildings with new parking lots, but one that binds it with new study spaces. On this matter, the University has messed up its priorities.

Nowadays, even high school or middle school kids know that cars that run on fossil fuel are a major source of pollution. What does this have to do with parking lots? Since electronic-powered automobile is far from popularization, building more parking lots means that there will be more automobiles that bring their pollutants up the mountain. To make things worse, SFU’s indoor parking lots are infamous for their bad ventilation, and trap the pollutants inside, only to be inhaled by unsuspecting students. Building new parking lots will only trap more pollutants, and give more people (as well as an already-very-sick planet) a living hell.

At this point, some people will want to jump out at me and yell: “You’re completely neglecting the rights of commuters!” But I’m not. Commuters have always had the option of taking public transit or car-pooling. I know that neither public transit nor car-pooling is perfect, but both of them are much greener than driving, consuming less fuel and emitting fewer pollutants. And have those who argue against commuter neglect been considerate at all? With one vehicle occupying the potential study space of three students who are still wandering around campus looking for a place, it sure doesn’t seem like it.

Building more parking lots in SFU is bad for the community, bad for the people, and bad for the planet. Attaching parking lots to new buildings would increase pollutants on the hill and take away valuable study spaces from students, making life on campus all that much worse.