All of the extra students at Red Deer College this year mean extra demands on infrastructure. Parking lots are packed, with some students creating spots that aren’t actually there or parking where they shouldn’t.
Travis Porter, who is in open studies at RDC, wasn’t able to get a parking pass. He parked in a lot he didn’t have a pass for on his first day of class and was worried his car might get towed. He figures if no more spots come free, he’ll have to find some parking in a neighbourhood nearby.
Sarah Cole, a second year psychology student, has a pass for lot N at RDC, but it didn’t help her find a spot any quicker. Her lot was full when she arrived for class and so she circled the lot for 10 minutes until someone left. It meant she was late for one of her first classes of the year.
There are 700 more students attending RDC than last year, with enrolment at 7,800, and parking and housing are at a premium. Every parking spot in the lots on campus — all 3,304 of them — has been taken. The college even created a new lot during the summer, adding 78 new stalls.
“Parking is always an issue,” said Steven Kwasny, RDC Students’ Association president. “We sold out this year in terms of all of our parking spots. So we’re working with the college to see what we can do to provide more spots or carpool parking to encourage carpooling.”
Jim Madder, executive vice-president academic at RDC, said it’s not quite a one-to-one ratio with students to vehicles, but very close.
“Part of that is not having a really effective regional transportation strategy,” Madder said. “So again if you’re coming from Sylvan or you’re coming from Rocky, chances are you’re driving.”
Madder said RDC has looked at increasing the number of parking spots, while at the same time being reluctant to put more gravel on the land. He said they’ve also spoken about building a multi-level parkade, but that would increase the cost of parking.
Courtney Embleton, a second-year psychology student, missed getting a parking pass this year and has noticed the difference from last year, when she bought a parking pass a couple of months into the first semester. She would like the college to add more spaces or create a parking lot off campus and having buses transport people onto campus.
Residence housing is also in high demand this year.
The waiting list at the residence office sat at around 60 this week, with every one of the 550 single beds and 26 family spaces on campus being taken.
Glenice Grover, residence manager at RDC, said the college saw a 10 per cent increase in people applying for residence this year.
The waiting list topped 300 around June, but has gone down since then. She said it is common to have all of the residence beds taken and a waiting list, but having a waiting list at this time of year is a little uncommon.
Kwasny said the students’ association has had a huge number of off-campus requests for housing, but they’ve also had many people around Red Deer listing basements and apartments for rent.
“There has been a lot of off-campus housing available,” Kwasny said. “Thanks to the recession, people are trying to rent out property to try to make some extra money.”