KAMLOOPS — One can only hope the parking at TRU will soon improve to allow students to actually park on campus to attend classes. I think the University owes a big debt to nearby shopping centres who have been inundated with students parking on their lots while construction has been taking place on campus, clogging roadways, shutting down parking lots, and creating chaos. If I were the owners of the Superstore and Sahali Mall sites, or the Walmart location, I would send a bill to TRU asking for compensation. I know there have been times at all those parking lots where they have been totally full, and certainly not from shoppers. I have watched as kids park their vehicles and make the trek across Columbia Street to get to their classes. The frontage road adjacent to Columbia Street which runs up from the Ramada Hotel to the new Starbucks is full of cars every day. And they are mostly students, not people staying at the motels or going for a coffee.
Parking on campus is never easy. The Tournament Capital Centre and Canada Games Pool are a problem all the time, but you always used to be able to get a parking spot further away. Then this summer, the University started doing some restructuring, which meant that some parking areas were closed, a couple of them for good, and traffic had to be rerouted. Contractors ran into some problems, so the work hasn’t been completed on time. So where do students go? Wherever they can find a spot. And so students go wherever they think there’s a chance they can park and not get towed.
Since shopping centres don’t monitor their lots for violators, kids figure that’s a pretty good place to park, even though it’s a bit of a walk. I even know of a few kids who walk all the way from Aberdeen Mall where they park their vehicles. While public transportation is a viable alternative and certainly should be used more by some of these problem parkers, the schedule isn’t always ideal, and for some, just doesn’t work.
It’s a dilemma that won’t be solved anytime soon. The University is growing. Parking will continue to be an issue. It is at most secondary institutions in the province. But it’s one that needs to be addressed. When shopping malls have limited parking, people tend not to shop there. They will go where it’s easier to park.
It is only now becoming a major concern. I hear complaints from stores and from shoppers. I don’t blame the kids. Even though some of them could solve the issue by using public transit, the real issue is making sure there is enough parking on campus. While some days it will be tough to find a spot, that should be the exception, not the rule. It’s just the opposite right now.