In 2002, UTM faced a critical decision related to the provision of parking services to meet the increasing demand associated with dramatic enrollment growth. Essentially, the issue was: i) simply install more surface parking lots at relatively low cost ($2500/space); or ii) pay higher rates to fund more expensive construction while protecting green space.
This "pay or pave" debate resonated throughout UTM and provided profile to a number of groups and potential projects - all of which were supportive of, or working toward, campus sustainability. Confirmed growth estimates lent urgency to the issues and served to focus the widespread level of environmental consciousness throughout the UTM community. Student involvement is a driving force behind many of these initiatives.
Since 2002, over 20 different sites on campus have been removed from mowing and planted with native species of trees and wildflowers. Allowing these sites to return to a more naturalized state has increased habitat for wildlife, improved campus aesthetics, and decreased maintenance costs. Although UTM no longer has the space for large-scale planting events, monitoring and maintenance of these naturalized sites is a continual process.