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EDITORIAL – Where’s the very worst place to park? Hint: it’s not downtown

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

An ArmchairMayor.ca editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

IF I ASKED you, “What’s the worst parking experience in the world?” you’d probably answer, “downtown Kamloops.”

If I said, “Nope, try again,” you’d probably say, “Royal Inland Hospital.”

You’d be wrong a second time. It’s not downtown Kamloops, it’s not the hospital. It’s Thompson Rivers University.

It’s a gong show up there. The more they try to fix it, the worse it gets.

One day last week, I was there for an event and found a spot about half-way to Savona. After trying in vain to figure out the parking kiosk, I stood there, staring blankly at the machine.

Fortunately, a nice student happened along and talked me through it, explaining the improperly labeled buttons, that while the machine said the daily parking rate was both $5 and $4 it really meant $4, and that even though the instructions said to put the receipt on my dashboard, it wasn’t necessary.

The real fun began when I had to leave the conference part-way through the morning. Upon my return 40 minutes later, I commenced an aimless drive around campus looking in vain for another spot. There are premium lots, general lots, gated lots, economy lots, reserved lots, first-come-first-served lots and meters.

There are spaces for electric vehicles, spaces for motorcycles and spaces for handicapped people. But there was none for me.

A couple of lots have marquee-type signs that helpfully tell you when the lot is “Full,” but that doesn’t deter anyone from driving around and around anyway in hopes someone might suddenly leave, so I joined a sort of caravan of parkers without hope.

TRU keeps trying things but nothing works: car pooling, transit, jacking up the rates and, of course, there’s got to be an app for that.

So where did I end up parking? There are 2,200 stalls on that campus and not a one was available. I won’t say which big box store parking lot I parked in off campus, but let’s just say I was desperate and willing to risk a fine.

It’s no wonder so many students do the same.

Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear twice daily Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

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About Mel Rothenburger (5948 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

13 Comments on EDITORIAL – Where’s the very worst place to park? Hint: it’s not downtown

  1. On a related note, is there no one in Canada capable of designing a parking lot? I’ve always wanted a T-shirt that reads “I Survived the Sav-on Parking Lot,” or “. . .the Landsdowne Mall Parking Lot,” or . . . ..

  2. I wish transit was an option for me as I live on a great route that would make it very easy for me to get to/from work. But, I have a child who needs to get to/from childcare within a certain time frame. I would have to wake her up at 5/5:30 to even attempt to make that happen. Sadly, until she is old enough to navigate her own way on the bus (which is at leas 5-6 years away), I’m stuck having to drive and park on campus as I can barely make it within the daycare timeline as it is. I know I am not alone in situations like this. Yes, there are people who likely don’t need to drive, but who are we to judge who that is. The parking at TRU needs to improve. As they bring more students to campus this situation is only going to get worse, not better.

  3. The parking situation is honestly a direct result of prioritizing profit. Walking and transit are good options for people who live close by, but let us not forget that we are one of the most geographically wide spread cities in the Country. A “transit works in Vancouver” philosophy does not apply here because the service levels just aren’t the same. Of course, a great deal many of things are not well thought out at TRU. Look at the food on site and tell me that giving the monopoly to one company is a good idea. The result? The most expensive food prices for the poor indebted students (and of course the less so faculty).

  4. The parking situation is honestly a direct result of prioritizing profit. Walking and transit are good options for people who live close by, but let us not forget that we are one of the most geographically wide spread cities in the Country. A “transit works in Vancouver” philosophy does not apply here because the service levels just aren’t the same. Of course, a great deal many of things are not well thought out at TRU. Look at the food on site and tell me that giving the monopoly to one company is a good idea. The result? The most expensive food prices for the poor indebted students (and of course the less so faculty).

  5. Jennie Stadnichuk // February 8, 2018 at 2:11 PM // Reply

    I agree that parking at TRU has gotten worse despite additional spaces, raised rates etc. I attended @ UCC during the 1990’s and it was similar then with vehicle pollution as we drove desperately seeking a space. I couldn’t use public transit as the bus hours didn’t accommodate some of my late night classes. My biggest surprise was how many students who had to use student loans were driving cars far newer than my old (affordable) one. Perhaps the University could consider an Environmental reward/penalty option when setting Tuition fees. One determinant of tuition amount is increased fees if you drive a car to class (penalty) and the reward might be a decrease of fees. License plate numbers would be required and the parking enforcement staff would be checking this information against the student’s registration to ensure honesty. Those forming a car pool would be rewarded as would those using city transit! This would be considered an environmental goal and included when TRU speaks of environmental issues.

  6. Parking has become a universal “cash cow”. Ironically, at TRU the attempts to enhance this revenue source have lead to a mess. The long term plan appears to be to build on existing parking space (thereby eliminating it), and eventually replacing it with something which TRU doesn’t seem to know yet. One suggestion had been underground parking. I suppose this would be one of the few alternatives if the TRU campus was located in say, downtown Toronto, a bit strange considering that we’re in ranch country. If you think parking at TRU is expensive and/or a pain, just wait. Things could get much worse.

  7. I too an a long-time employee and parking was free when I started working at TRU. Some live where there is no transit so yes you must drive – I started parking off campus when the rates were doubled but now it is hard to find a spot anywhere close by. If you have an appointment or leave campus on your unpaid lunch hour then when you return either to off campus parking or paid on campus parking you usually cannot find a spot and return to work late – employees are not valued by the employer and it gets worse each year. They seem to want to “try to make extra revenue” with parking fees but many of the “reserved” “premium” spots are still available – does not make sense

  8. As an employee of almost 30 years (yes, I started when it was Cariboo College and parking was free), I take transit in the winter which puts me to work half an hour late (I make up for it by taking a short lunch) and it takes 65 minutes from the time I finish work until I get home (if the stars align and I catch the bus I need at the exchange). In the spring, summer and fall, I ride my motorcycle and park off campus. You would think if a place valued their employees, they wouldn’t charge a ‘tax’ so they could get to work…

  9. The worst parking experience in the world?

  10. When I was a student I took public transit and walked. Is public transit no longer an option? Is a brisk walk no longer an option?

    • Pierre, you forget that even in a small city like Kamloops, there are places that you cannot get to from here, unless you drive. If you do manage to find a way on transit, you will be late every time, and spend far too long on the bus.

      • I agree Grouchy. However the majority of people at TRU (students and staff) come from areas with transit service. If the transit service is not adequate then it needs to be improved immediately. On the latter, I would be quite upset to learn the system is not adequate. It is not that the City and TRU officials have not had the time to either prepare or improve it considering TRU has been up and running since last century.

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