Students at the University of Canberra are not happy about the parking situation they face on a day to day basis, with one student describing it as “absolutely terrible”. In light of fee increases to casual and fortnightly parking rates earlier this year, greatly increasing demand, and growing security concerns, the university’s campus parking appears to be bursting at the seams.
In peak hours, students have found no car parks available at all anywhere on campus. Some have taken alternate modes of transport, while others try their luck against the keen-eyed parking inspectors and face fines upwards of $100. Several UC students have told Curieux that they’ve spent “up to an hour” searching for a parking spot.
It hasn’t been all criticism, however, with some students providing suggestions on how to fix this issue. Cooper Lodge resident, Davide Zanatta has suggested that a “parking lot should be reserved for people living on res, and having it close to accommodation.”
One student residence provider, Campus Living Villages does have such an amenity for their residents and also for their rival, UniLodge’s residents, available for hiring at $15 a week, Curieux understands.
UC Students’ Association President Nawaf Ibrahim has expressed great concern over the fining of students as a result of the parking situation they face.
“We have been urging students to leave for uni, if they are driving, at a reasonable time given the current parking situation,” Mr Ibrahim says.
“We are also urging students to use the UC Mobile App to check where parking spots are available… it would hopefully help you avoid a fine.”
The rising concern about campus parking comes as the University builds a new student residence dubbed “Cooper 2” in the place of the small car park opposite building 25, a frequent parking spot for Cooper Lodge residents before it was destroyed in December last year.
Now the closest campus car parks are a decent walk away – at least 300 metres – to the car park near building 7, currently being expanded with 144 extra car parks, and over the hill behind Cooper Lodge in Building 9 car parks.
The university have, however, retained a small car park for disabled drivers and motorcycles, directly beside Cooper Lodge, and this car park has become the popular place for students to park on a weekend.
UC Estate and Facilities Management had planned for this car park to be destroyed at the completion of a disabled parking lot on the far end of the ‘Cooper 2’ development, however students have raised their concerns at an open forum conducted before Semester 1 began.
Communications Student Imogen Hughes is one of the many students who live off-campus who are deeply affected by the buckling system.
“I’ve failed one of my classes because of the parking,” Ms Hughes says. “It’s just too busy.”
Last year’s on-campus sexual assault incident has added to Ms Hughes’ fear of walking on campus at night, even though extra lighting, cameras and pathways have been installed since the incident. “It’s just too hard to carry textbooks and keys between your fingers alone at night in the dark,” she says.
Ms Hughes also noted the cost of casual parking to her.
“The sheer cost is so ridiculous … It’s expensive, not worth the amount it is, I could get a bus for like $4 and walk half the length, It’s just inconvenient to be bound by a bus timetable.
”It’d be easier to build a multistorey car-park, it’s more environmentally friendly than the wide expanses of asphalt that is Building 7 car park. Having it just behind the Inspire Centre [Building 25] would make life so much easier for everyone.”
Since Parking rates were introduced in 2014, fee rises for casual parking have risen by 20%, and fortnightly by 15.38%.
UC’s Head of Security, Aleck Kalos has been contacted for comment.
EDIT 26/04/2016: Security has flagged the commencement of discussions over a potential 1000-park multi-deck facility. Security has said while the talks are in early stages, this is “a positive direction for the UC”. – Aleck Kalos