Sick of parking in Narnia and paying a lot for it? Should you really complain? A look at UNBSJ and other university parking situations

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When asked about their thoughts on the parking situation on campus, many UNBSJ students have complaints about availability, the price, having to pay for parking at all and the proximity to campus.

To address these concerns, The Baron has decided to take a look at the parking available to UNBSJ students in comparison to other universities and businesses/organizations around the city of Saint John.

UNBSJ students pay $142 for an entire year of parking on campus, $97 for two terms, or $66 for one term. Faculty and staff pay approximately 35 per cent more than students for their parking passes, at a rate of $216 for a yearly pass.

To make a comparison, a Saint John Transit monthly student bus pass is $60. A student who purchases a bus pass for eight months of the year (assuming two terms of school) would spend $420 on bus passes, but this does not factor in other expenses or conveniences of driving.

In total, there are 1,400 student and faculty parking spots on the UNBSJ campus.

While purchasing a parking pass does not guarantee parking, David Gillespie, safety and security manager at UNBSJ, says the parking lots on campus have never been full.

The fees from the sale of parking passes go directly into maintenance of the parking lots on campus, including paving, repairs, lighting, plowing, painting lines and security. Gillespie says that the university consistently runs a deficit in the maintenance of its parking. “It is not for profit,” he says, “We are just trying to re-coop some of the administration costs to provide parking.”

Gillespie was unable to provide estimates on the cost of snow and ice removal because it is on a per-storm basis and varies every year.

Let’s compare UNBSJ’s parking rates to monthly uptown parking passes: A pass to park in the uptown area runs between $63 and $110 per month depending on which lot the spot is located in. The Saint John Parking Commission owns and rents out 34 monthly parking lots with a total of 1,610 parking spaces. There are also 446 parking spots available for hourly or daily parking at a rate of $2 per hour.

Students who choose to park at the meters on campus pay half of this rate ($1/hour) but they are subject to a one hour time limit. Students who choose to purchase a parking pass pay about $11 per month (based on full year parking pass prices) and they aren’t restricted to a single parking space.

The city of Saint John charges fines between $20 and $75 for parking illegally, depending on the infraction. UNBSJ charges either $15 for parking in a spot without the proper parking pass, or $30 if safety is impacted or a student parks in a visitor’s spot. Drivers are legally bound to pay tickets issued by The Saint John Parking Commission (SJPC). The SJPC doesn’t have such powers over parking on private lots, including UNBSJ.

Compared to other universities in the Maritimes, UNBSJ students seem to be paying significantly less for their parking. Dalhousie students pay $204 for two semesters, UNB Fredericton and Saint Thomas students pay $148 and Saint Mary’s University students pay $250 if they are able to purchase one of the 350 passes available. University of PEI ($86 for two terms) and Mount Allison University (free parking) were some of the few universities that beat out UNBSJ on its parking prices.

Parking on campus, especially in the winter months, can definitely be a hassle at times, but compared to other universities in the Maritimes and parking available from the Saint John Parking Commission, UNBSJ students pay one of the lowest parking rates. UNBSJ is also a very small campus and, according to Gillespie, students are never farther than a five minute walk from one of the campus buildings. “There is always parking,” he says “there just isn’t [necessarily] always convenient parking.”