OPINION: ‘Sorry you drove today?’ There’s just not enough parking spaces

by | Jan 30, 2020 | Campus News, Opinion

Neil Gonputh, Opinion Editor

The front page of the Sept. 4, 1979, edition of Coven, the student newspaper for Humber College at that time, asked students if they regretted driving to campus. And 40 years later, the headline still applies.

Finding a parking spot at Humber College is like trying to find a parking spot at a popular mall during Christmas time. The only time a parking space is guaranteed is late in the evening and on the weekends.

I recall my first week at Humber. I had buffered an extra 15 minutes in my travel to get to class with time to spare. It made no difference. I showed up to the lot and was told the lot was full, and then redirected to the lengthy queue headed to the parking garage.

The traffic jam in the parking garage was akin to the traffic exiting an arena just after a major sports event. It took several minutes to drive the short distance to the garage. Then, driving endless circles up to the eighth floor used up more time. In the end, instead of arriving 15 minutes early to class, I was 15 minutes late.

During this time, there were many other irate drivers. One driver kept flashing her parking pass to attendants, asking why was she sold a pass if there are no spots available.

But how are there still not enough parking spots after 40 years?

Humber oversells parking spots, much like how airlines oversell their seats. The idea is not everyone who has a spot will come at the same time. So, in theory, overselling should not be an issue.

The reality is there is a limit to how much the college can oversell and it seems it oversells too many spots. During the day, typically between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., finding a spot may be close to impossible, especially during the first two weeks of class.

Is it legal to sell parking spots you do not have? The airlines do it with seats. But the airlines offer alternatives, like discounts or credits, if they are overbooked to entice people to give up their seats.

Humber’s approach is to offer alternative parking, such as the parking garage or the parking at Queen’s Plate Drive, which is not even on campus. It seems to offer them a legal reprieve, though it is far from a realistic solution.

What is the solution? Humber College needs to open up more parking spots. If they lack land, they need to build multi-level parking on their current lots.

Some may argue that parking lots are costly to build. However, parking spots generate money.

The Canadian Parking Association states “by 2019, global revenues from parking management (equipment, systems and services) should almost double compared to 2014, increasing from US$5 billion to just over $9 billion.” The money required to build the lots could be recouped from the income they generate.

Finding parking was an issue over 40 years ago and is still an issue today. It seems it be an issue 40 years from now.