By BERNIE BELLAN
Okay, the following story is not of earth-shaking importance…it’s just one of those typical kinds of stories that can work individuals like me into a high dudgeon.
It was on Monday, November 28 that I really noticed the ridiculous imbalance between reserved and non-reserved parking stalls in the Asper Campus parking lot. It was 9:30 a.m. and I was there to attend the Rady JCC wellness fair.
For months on end I hadn’t brought my vehicle to the campus; I’m a dedicated cyclist and, with our unbelievably warm weather this winter I was able to extend my cycling season by a couple of months.
But on this Monday, as I entered the parking lot, I noticed the phenomenon of cars circling the aisles looking for a parking spot. I drove to the very end of the campus parking lot - behind the building that used to house the Canada Post depot. (By the way, does anyone know what kind of business is in that building now? There’s no sign - isn’t that unusual for a business?)
As I got out of my car, a senior who looked to be quite a bit older than me (Hey, I’m a senior now too.) asked me whether it was okay to park where he was. I told him it was okay, but that he should give his license plate number to one of the security guards at the campus security desk. As this gentleman began to hobble off in what was going to be a block-long walk to the campus entrance, I thought to myself: Why are there so many vacant stalls in the row of the parking lot that’s immediately adjacent to the Manitoba Youth Centre parking lot?
I was astonished that there were so few cars in those stalls, all of which were marked with “reserved” signage.
So, the next day (Tuesday) I sent an email to Curtis Martin, who’s the executive director of the campus - and who is someone who has always responded quickly to any emails that I might send him.
I asked Curtis why, if there were so many parking stalls going unused by staff and students, more stalls couldn’t be freed for others to use?
Curtis responded almost immediately: “Yesterday was a busy day at the Campus as you know. The Rady JCC hosted a Wellness Day that brought in approximately 100 additional individuals to the Campus. This is on top of the 15 or so vendors who were here to set up booths and information tables on various products. Further, Mon-Wed-Fri are usually our busiest days in the morning as the majority of Rady programs are Mon-Wed-Fri programs.
“The staff/student section was also affected as there was a professional development day at the school, so no students were at Campus. The full time teachers were at work, however none of the teachers’ assistants or part-time workers were.
“The Campus is currently reviewing the policy/procedure for staff, as we are finding more and more staff parking in the member area. Some, because they are ALSO Rady members, so have a Rady parking tag. Our policy is that they are to park in staff areas if they are here to work, and not monopolize a member/guest spot for 8 hours of the day.
“AJCC has always been very reluctant to tow vehicles, however we are warning staff that this WILL happen if they are repeat offenders of the policy once it goes out.”
I was curious to get some more specific information about the number of parking stalls in the lot, so I asked Curtis how many stalls there were altogether, how many were reserved for staff and students, and how many staff and students are actually registered to use those reserved stalls?
Curtis answered that there are 400 parking stalls altogether in the parking lot. Of those, there are 135 reserved stalls, of which 50 are reserved for specific individuals and 85 are “scrambled” reserved, he noted. Curtis also explained that there are 189 staff and students combined who are registered to use reserved stalls. (There are also 15 handicapped parking stalls on the west side of Doncaster.)
I was back again Wednesday morning, November 30, and once again had to go all the way almost to Kenaston to find a parking spot. This time I decided to count how many of the reserved stalls were vacant. I counted 45 vacant stalls - which is exactly one third of all the reserved stalls.
Surely, I thought to myself, the campus ought to consider taking some of those reserved stalls and turning them into general parking stalls. As well, there were cars squeezed into an area alongside the fence between the parking lot and that building on Willow that doesn’t have a sign. I asked one of the security guards who was out in the parking lot whether those cars were entitled to park there and he said that those weren’t really parking spots but no one was going to make an issue of it.
So - this is what it comes down to: The Asper Campus parking lot is extremely busy - apparently more so on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Some of the staff who are registered to use reserved parking stalls choose instead to use stalls that are intended for general use; thus, in effect they are taking two stalls (one of which goes unused). With 135 stalls for 189 registered users, that’s an awfully high number of stalls available for registered users.
There are two obvious solutions: One is to tow the cars of any registered users who are too lazy to park in a reserved stall. (Apparently Curtis Martin says that’s going to start happening; it can’t happen soon enough.) The second is to reassess how many reserved stalls are actually necessary. It must be nice for a student at the Gray Academy to know that any time he or she wants to bring a car to school there will be a spot available for him or her, but how many students who are entitled to bring cars actually do so?
One more thing: When I was discussing this situation with someone at the campus they pointed out to me that once we get any sort of a real snowfall, that area behind the unnamed building will lose a lot of its spaces when the snow is stored there, so the situation will only get worse.
There - I’ve vented my spleen! Hey, as I wrote to Gail Asper about this situation: Gail, if you can get a bee in your bonnet over the lack of synchronized traffic lights on Grant, I can get worked up about all those unused parking stalls in the Asper Campus parking lot!