Dal parking a struggle, even with a permit

Lot overcrowding a continuing issue on campus

Dalhousie has parking areas off-limits to general permit holders, even when spaces are available. (Photo: Kayte Brewster)

The cost of parking passes and overcrowding in the lots are deterrents to parking at Dalhousie University.

“Free (available) parking almost doesn’t exist,” says third-year student Sam Brodeur.  He chooses to walk or take the bus to get to school, rather than struggle to find parking.  Brodeur, who already has to pay for parking at his apartment building, isn’t inclined to pay to park at the university as well.

 Parking spaces at Dalhousie University are either limited to permit holders or require the use of a parking meter. This is not uncommon, however Dalhousie is particularly well-known for its lack of parking—by mid-September, the school had had oversold its capacity by 22 per cent.

The overselling is intended to account for fluctuation of traffic through the day, week, and term, ensuring those who wish to park on campus can purchase permits. It can, however, be frustrating when free parking spaces are nowhere to be found when needed.

 Facilities Management makes it clear on its website that parking is issued on a first come, first serve basis and that purchasing a permit in no way guarantees there will be parking available. But with annual parking passes costing just shy of $300 for students, and more for faculty and staff  (an increase on last year’s rates), it becomes a financial inconvenience as well as a hassle when spots aren’t available.

 Brodeur is not alone in his aversion. Even drivers who do bring their vehicles to school don’t always see the advantage in a parking permit. Erica Mitton never bothered getting a parking pass, believing they’re too expensive — she would rather risk a ticket and park on one of the side streets.

“I know where to park and when to move my car,” Mitton jokes, noting that in five years, she has only received one parking ticket.  But she knows that other students aren’t always as lucky. “I see tickets all the time; they (parking enforcement officers) give out tons.”

 Though she paid for a parking permit last year, Megan Swetnam says she took the bus most days.

“Most of my classes were at the Tupper Medical Building, and there’s only one parking lot there,” she says. “To get a spot, you had to be there before 6:45 a.m.”

Swetnam says the nearest other lots to her building were a kilometre away, but she didn’t hold out much hope if she arrived after 8:30 a.m.

“It wasn’t worth it,” she says of her parking pass.

 While students often seem less than optimistic about on-site parking prospects, Dalhousie’s full lots would suggest that at least some of those who purchase permits for the larger parking areas are able to make use of them.

Students considering parking on-campus without a permit (or getting ‘creative’ to find spaces with the permit they do have) may want to think twice.

 In addition to issuing tickets, this year the school started immobilizing vehicles parked in general parking without permits. Removing the boot will cost violators $75 - a pricier consequence for breaking the rules than the $20 tickets already issued. The consequence also applies to vehicles with permits, but who have accumulated four or more Dalhousie parking tickets.