By Amir-Pashah Tabrizian-Pour
Recently, we learned that some Ryerson graduates have developed a “downtown parking finder” application for Android phones.
It’s a great source of pride that some of our very own graduates made this happen. Perhaps it was somewhere on our campus or during a lecture that the initial idea came up. In that case, kudos to our university for its role in nurturing talent.
But a parking app alone won’t solve the biggest problem for those who drive to school every day: parking at Ryerson, a university with four parking facilities and considerable space in the heart of downtown Toronto, is too expensive — especially for students.
I admit that Ryerson is a commuting university with loads of public transit access points. But do those students and faculty members who wish to commute with their own cars not have the right to find decently priced parking?
The university actually does offer a paid parking service. Students seeking a spot are required to apply for permits that run from September to April each year. The service costs $1,205.94 for the underground parking and $813.60 for the surface parking. This is a considerable amount of money to be paid on top of tuition fees and other expenses.
So why don’t students just leave the cars at home? Consider being enrolled in the school of journalism or RTA. Often, you find yourself going out to cover an event, do an interview or shoot a video. You have a tripod, a light kit, camera bag.
It’d be a display of endurance and skill to carry all of this equipment from one side of town to the other via the stairwells and revolving metal doors of public transit.
So what are your options? Maybe you take a taxi and pay out of your own pocket. Or you give up the heavy tripod and sensitive light kit and settle for a mediocre shoot, compromising the result and, in turn, your grades.
A better solution would be a car. If only you had a place to park that didn’t cost 25 per cent of tuition.
Obviously, parking will never be free. Currently, vehicle commuters to Ryerson have to pay about $12-$15 (daily maximum) to park from the morning to the afternoon at one of the parking locations on campus without a permit.
But here’s the not-so-pretty part: there’s no difference between a full-time student and any other individual that wishes to park in one of the parking spaces on our campus.
If Mr. X wants to go to the Eaton Centre and parks in the campus bookstore parking lot, he can do so for the same price as a full-time student enrolled in the institution that owns the lot.
The parking issue is not a life-changing one. It can be simply overlooked and ignored and no major harm will be done. But even a slim student discount can be a positive gesture that strengthens Ryerson’s community and that sense of “belonging.”
Students need to be a higher priority than commuters who are desperate to find parking in downtown Toronto so they can spend an afternoon at the mall. If Mr. X is paying $15, then it makes sense for a second-year engineering student to pay less. Much less.