New parking deck will alleviate space shortage, says chief administrative officer

Thursday, April 1, 2010 - 10:50am

Construction of a single-level parking deck that will add 252 parking spaces at U of T Mississauga will begin Monday, April 5.

The deck - which will not be fully enclosed - will be constructed on the front portion of lot 8 across from the Recreation, Athletics and Wellness Centre. The entrance to lot 8 will be closed and construction hoarding erected on April 5.

There is a huge need on campus for extra parking spaces, said Paul Donoghue, chief administrative officer, in an interview. Almost 450 spaces were eliminated last year with the construction of two projects - the Instructional Centre and Health Sciences Complex. As a result, few to no spaces are available during peak hours, particularly early in the academic year. In 2009-10, parking permits were sold out and waiting lists established.

Supply is significantly below what is needed to provide an acceptable level of service to the UTM community, Donoghue said. While current parking demands cannot be met, there are also short- and long-term enrolment expansion plans that will put further strains on the parking system. U of T Mississauga will increase its student complement by 650 over the next three to four years and by a possible 4,000 students (to a maximum of 15,000) in the long term.

In examining options to alleviate the parking shortfall, Donoghue did not want to build another surface lot - a move that would compromise the campus commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship. Being environmentally sensitive and responsible is the only acceptable alternative.

Building a surface lot would have required destruction of one of our defining elements - the remarkable green space that surrounds the campus. By building above an existing lot, the environmental impact will be minimized, he noted.

Neither an underground garage nor a fully enclosed above-ground parking garage was viable, he said, due to cost and timing issues. We need a structure that will be ready for September 2010, and at a cost that is reasonable. A parking deck is the best alternative.

Additional levels could be added to the deck at a later date, if needed. The new 250 spaces will alleviate some of the issues faced this year but will not create a surplus of spaces. In order to maintain a leadership role in sustainability, we want to encourage our community to use other methods of transportation, said Donoghue.

The project which received final approval from Governing Council in March 2010 is on a very aggressive time line, said Donoghue, and is scheduled for completion when students return to classes in September. Cost of the project is estimated at $6.5 million.