As lakehead University – Orillia has grown there has been an increase in the number of students who have had to drive to the campus in order to attend classes. The Orillia campus is situated in a farmers field which allows for cheap future growth potential but makes it a commuter based school. This means as the school grows it needs to provide additional spaces for students to park in order to attend classes which is a costly venture. This has become increasingly challenging as Lakehead University wants to keep it LEED diamond status of which adding parking stalls would negatively affect. I believe that there is an opportunity to address the concerns of Lakehead Students and Lakehead University through a number of different means by working with the community. This article will focus on a number of different initiatives that Lakehead could take in order to address its growing parking issues.
Lakehead University currently has 2-4 car stalls set aside for people who carpool. Carpooling rules at Lakehead University include vehicles with 2 or more people in them which allows them to use these stalls. These stalls fill up fairly quickly and there is no real means of policing the vehicles as they come in. Lakehead Security can’t accurately determine if someone is using it for their own spot regardless of the rules or if it is being legitimately used. I believe that Lakahead could address these issues by expanding its offering of carpooling and providing students with perks to carpool. Carpooling is a great way for people to reduce the environmental damage they create, build social relationships and still use a vehicle. Here are a couple thoughts on how Lakehead can promote carpooling.
1. Add more spots for carpooling vehicles to promote its use.
2. Place a security camera by the carpool spots for the vehicles protection but also to find out if people are using the spots illegally.
3. Fine those who use these spots without merit.
4. Create a carpooling website for all Lakehead students to use in order to find rides and reduce traffic.
The program could work as such: when registering for your parking pass the website would ask if you plan to carpool with friends. If yes, it sends out an email to those people and to your lakehead University email asking to sign up. If the 3-4 friends confirm his email then you received a 10% reduction on your parking pass costs. Using a mobile application or the website you check in to the spot and how many people you came with and it gives you a points system which unlocks prizes. After 2-3 months of consistently carpooling with other students it gives you and your carpool mates a $10 voucher to the café. The program would be available to students who would regularly drive to school and who because of this program don’t drive to school anymore. The costs savings to Lakehead could be enormous and would prevent them from having to build additional parking lots. If using this program we could eliminate 15% of cars coming and going to campus it could save a lot of gas, time and money.
Lakehead University has consistent access to Orillia transit but for many students it’s not a viable option because they either live out of town or need to drive in order to get to school. Lakehead has already partnered with the City of Orillia to purchase parking spaces for students at the Rotary Place for a cheaper cost. The students pay Lakehead and then they pay an annual fee of roughly $10,000 for the spaces to the City of Orillia. I would like to see this program expanded with the partners in the community and with the City of Orillia. Lakehead students pay for a yearlong bus pass in their tuition which means they can take the bus for free at any point in that year. There are a couple opportunities I see for Lakehead to look at community partners to fill its parking woes. There is a call center, movie theater and the City of Orillia all of which have lots with quick and easy access to Orillia transit. Based on their proximity to campus one could have a reduced fee and consistent access to parking.
The Call center has a large parking lot that is rarely full and could easily accept 20-30 vehicles that belong to students. Based on its proximity to the school you could charge a little less than the rotary place spots but add to the available spots without having to add parking on your own property. That business makes good use of its available spots and it provides an additional source of income for the business. The photo below shows one of the parking lots that could be used for additional parking and the bus stop going to the school and coming back are very close to the site.
The Movie theater again is another business which I believe could benefit from the additional access and money coming into its business. The movie theater is often empty during the day so its lots are open and available for students to use. As movies start to come close to starting is when its lots become a little fuller and a little more challenging to find parking. I believe the area shown in the photo could be set aside specifically for Lakehead University students from a 8 am – 5 pm basis and then after that they would be fair game for patrons of the theater to use or students with late classes. As the distance increases between the school and the parking space the cost would decrease for the students. This could be attractive for students who don’t want to pay for $400 for a parking pass come September but might be more willing to pay $250 or 300.
Finally there is a lot of opportunity for Lakehead and the City of Orillia to work together to find a use for the municipal lots that are owned by the City of Orillia. I believe that the city could set aside areas in these lots for students who are driving in and pay a fee $100-150 to park there for the school year without fear of being ticketed. This would not only bring in additional revenue for the City of Orillia but it would also allow students to use Orillia transit and show just how valuable of a tool it is for the community by raising its ridership numbers. Orillia bylaw could continue to ticket vehicles in this area as normal and take in those revenues while accepting the additional revenue from those vehicles. If students don’t have the pass in their car window then they can be ticketed as if a normal vehicle failure to pay. The benefits are there for both Orillia and for Lakehead to mitigate the parking disaster that continues to happen at the school.
Enforcement and additional rules
Lakehead University would need to make sure that people who are parking in the areas that have been designated for students are in fact students who have paid. This would mean that they would have to go to these areas and check on the vehicles to make sure they are registered and have paid. This would mean that Lakehead would be allowed to ticket on other businesses property and those revenues would come back to the university in the form of parking tickets. This would keep the students in line with regards to stealing spots designated for paying students and would keep these spaces available for students from other individuals. The City of Orillia could continue its bylaw enforcement of its parking stalls as it does currently depending on the agreement. If those spots were designated for specifically Lakehead vehicles they would fine those without a pass which may require bylaw amendments. If they allowed students who paid to park as long as they had a pass anywhere in the designated lots then they could continue on as normal.
Signs designating the spots would need to be put in to show that this was a designated area and allow for proper implementation of the rules and conduct. There would also be a fee associated with being able to park in other lots. So if you purchased a main campus lot spot you would pay nothing to park in the other 3 lots (downtown, call center and movies) where as if you bought a downtown spot you would pay $100 and only be able to go up as close as the call center. You can always go down and further from campus for free.
Hopefully with full implementation of these plans Lakehead can address the constant concerns of students about a lack of parking without having to spend millions on parking lots that sit empty throughout the summer and 3 of 7 week days. Carpooling and working with the community partners are just a couple ideas I had in order to address the issues at Lakehead’s commuter campus. The campus needs to do more to get people out of their cars and into transit, carpool, buses or alternative means of transport.