Kwantlen hikes student parking rates

The Kwantlen Student Association complains about an apparent lack of consultation.

By Alex Hawley & Matt DiMera

Students who drive to campus will likely be paying more for parking this fall, and will no longer be able to use the reserved parking lots. Kwantlen quietly raised parking rates by almost 80 per cent and eliminated reserved passes for students as of July 1, with little fanfare.

Christopher Girodat, director of student services for the Kwantlen Student Association. (Runner File Photo)

Students will no longer be able to purchase semester passes, but will instead be able to purchase weekly passes, for up to 16 weeks in advance at a time. At $14 per week, students will now fork out $224 for the 16 weeks during a semester. The change amounts to a $99 increase over the $125 students paid last spring for an unreserved parking pass.

According to university spokesperson Joanne Saunders, the changes were a long time coming and needed to maintain the parking lots.

“It’s really needed to be done for years and years and years,” said Saunders.

“In my view it’s probably just been neglected for far too-long.”

According to the university, Kwantlen’s parking prices are quite low compared to other local universities. She was unable to confirm which institutions Kwantlen was being compared to, before The Runner’s deadline, explaining that the staff person in charge of parking was on vacation.

A cursory review by The Runner of nearby institutions showed semester parking rates of $75 at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus, $150 at the University of the Fraser Valley and $90 at Douglas College, compared to Kwantlen’s new rate of $224.

Saunders also explained that the decision to abandon semester passes for students was made to account for the fact that some programs that Kwantlen offers are not traditional semesters and may overlap.

Saunders acknowledged that most of those programs are offered exclusively at the Cloverdale campus, but said that leaving the system as it was would have led to larger costs for students.

“In order to increase [the price of semester passes] enough it would have been a real substantial increase.”

In addition to no longer allowing students to purchase reserved passes, the university has also eliminated the discounted carpool pass, citing low-usage rates for both.

“They looked at the history of what students were purchasing,” noted Saunders.

“There were very few that were bought in the past year so they got rid of them to free the reserved stalls.”

Saunders says that some of the reserved parking stalls will eventually be switched over to non-reserved to compensate. However, she said the university had not decided how many stalls would be converted, or when the changes would happen.

Staff and faculty will be unaffected by the changes. Only Kwantlen employees will be allowed to use reserved parking during peak hours. According to information provided by Saunders, employees can pay either $120 per year for an unreserved pass or $200 per year for a reserved pass.

Saunders told The Runner that students were consulted, citing a June 8 meeting between Gordon Lee, Kwantlen’s vice president of finance, and Arzo Ansary and Christopher Girodat of the Kwantlen Student Association (KSA).

“We would never make a change like that without consulting with the students,” said Saunders.

Ansary, the KSA’s director of external affairs, disagreed and argued that the KSA was never included in any decision-making.

“The only consultation they ever had with us was the meeting where they told us what was going to happen,” said Ansary.

Students with short classes who used to pay for partial-day parking will also be looking at increases. Day passes are still $5, but the four-hour parking option has been eliminated.

Girodat, the KSA’s director of student services thinks the changes will unfairly affect students.

“It’s unfortunate that the university is getting rid of the semester parking passes, and an inconvenience for a number of students when they see the partial parking rates are being abolished,” said Girodat.

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