Hundreds have signed a petition started overnight in protest of the University of Guelph’s move to cut the number of parking lots for students from 18 down to seven, an amount the petition says “is not enough”.
Jamie Fournier, who started the petition, stressed she was “not trying to make this into a students [versus] staff thing” but rather is critical of the university administration’s approach to on-campus parking.
“Last year it was already hard enough to find parking as is but now it seems as though it’ll be completely impossible,” Fournier explained on Facebook, adding that, with the petition her goal is to bring enough awareness to the issue so she can meet with “someone higher up at the university”.
Fournier argues that many students such as herself commute from outside Guelph or may not posses the ability to walk or bicycle to campus. She adds that many students have missed class because they were unable to find a parking space.
For a university with a population over 30,000 “this is not enough,” Fournier wrote in the petition.
“Paying over [$14,000] a year for school, a student should have the right to go to classes that they are paying for.”
In apparent jab at the University of Guelph Board of Governors’ move in January not to divest from fossil fuels, Fournier wrote that “if the university cares about what single car pollution does to their carbon footprint they should consider not investing in fossil fuels to have a greater impact.”
The University of Guelph told The Post that the changes were made in response to “address capacity issues”. There are now 17 lots dedicated to faculty and staff totalling 1,997 spots and seven lots where students can park with a maximum of 2,045 spots.
“The hope is that the new system will make parking more efficient because people will go directly to their designated lots rather than spend time driving around looking for a spot,” said communications official Deirdre Healey.
Healey explained that parking is currently free after 5 p.m. and students are invited to move their vehicles closer to campus in the evening after many of the university’s employees go home.
“This new parking system is a starting point and adjustments may be made in the future,” the university official added.
Fournier has several suggestions for what could be fixed. The school could buy a nearby, large lot in the city and offer a shuttle service to bring students back and forth, a strategy used by Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber until a parking garage was built.
Fournier also offered the idea of an underground parking garage.
“It’s a frustrating feeling as though I have solutions but people aren’t open to hearing them because they feel as though since they aren’t affected by the problem that it’s not a valid problem,” she added.
The Post has reached out the student union for comment.