By: Gabrielle McLaren
If you are finding it difficult to find a parking spot at the Simon Fraser University Burnaby campus, you are not alone. The university is experiencing increased congestion in its parking lots this semester and parking passes have sold out at an unprecedented rate.
“I find the parking situation is not only an issue that is disregarded, but [a] large one too,” said undergraduate student Elda Hajdarovac, who drives to the SFU Burnaby campus regularly and knows the struggle to find parking.
This fall parking passes sold out after the first week of classes, according to David Agosti, director of Parking and Sustainable Mobility Services. Last year they only sold out after the first month of classes and prior to that they did not sell out for many years.
“I find the parking situation is not only an issue that is disregarded, but [a] large one too.” – Elda Hajdarovac, SFU student
To address the issue, parking services has announced a partnership with UniverCity to accommodate overflow parking on the Burnaby campus. A hundred new overflow parking spots are located in the southeast corner of campus in the former ‘G lot’ on Tower Road where UniverCity construction has not yet started.
Agosti explained that addressing the parking congestion on the Burnaby campus is no easy feat, but recognized that the issue is a concern for many students.
“One of the challenges is that there are four entities on campus controlling parking,” he said, referring to the lots under parking services in addition to those run by SFU Residence and Housing, UniverCity, and parking along the streets under the City of Burnaby.
“The important thing to understand is that while this is a challenge faced by people driving to campus, in reality this is an overall transportation challenge for anyone coming to the Burnaby campus,” admitted Agosti. “We’re working on both the parking and general transportation situation.”
Students who did manage to get a parking pass may be relieved to know that, since a 2014 blog post posted by parking services, the university hasn’t oversold parking passes in the last three years.
For others who have not been able to obtain a parking pass, it is hard to explain the sudden increase of drivers coming to the SFU Burnaby campus. However, local media has reported that changes in driving habits due to the elimination of bridge tolls this month have caused congestion elsewhere in Vancouver.
“In reality, this is an overall transportation challenge for anyone coming to the Burnaby campus” – David Agosti, SFU Parking and Sustainable Mobility Services
Since Hajdarovac started her degree at SFU five years ago, she told The Peak that she has never had the chance to purchase a parking pass.
“Oftentimes, especially at the beginning of semesters, there is barely any parking available and I often find myself parking in areas that are completely out of the way,” she mentioned.
Agosti said that the university is also working on collecting and sending data to TransLink to inform them of which routes have challenges and how they can improve transit services. TransLink recently unveiled a new service expansion, but it did not include direct bus lines to SFU.
Many students also say that transit isn’t a valid option for them.
“It is not that I am [too] ‘lazy’ to take transit instead [of] driving my car, it’s that it would take me well over two hours for a one-way trip,” explained Hajdarovac. “I also want to add that for people who are driving, opting out of the [U-Pass] is nearly impossible.”
She noted that she would like to see the option for people to put that money towards a parking pass if they need it.
“We are students after all,” she said.
Agosti recommends that students send their feedback, suggestions, and concerns about parking on campus to the parking services office.