Warnings issued to students parking at Preston Crossing

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Getting to and from school may be challenging for some students, and it may become even more difficult for those who park in commercial lots to catch the bus for a shorter bus ride, as these students could now receive parking tickets.

The USSU ad hoc transit committee is looking into park-and-ride services for students to alleviate current parking difficulties.

On Oct. 11, a post on USask Confessions warned that the Preston Crossing Walmart was starting to give out tickets to students or even towing the vehicles of students who parked in their lot to catch the bus to school. According to comments on the USask Confessions post, parking at Preston Crossing is a good option for students who commute from out of town.

Some students may also choose this option because of inconvenient bus routes and the cost of parking at the University of Saskatchewan. Alli Garand, a first-year arts and science student, says she parks at the Preston Crossing Walmart about two days a week because of the inconvenient bus ride from her house.

“I know [there are] some areas of the city [that] people might live in, like myself, where bus rides might be too long or they might need to transfer — it’s just an inconvenient location, where they’re living, and [it] might make it a little more difficult for them to make it around the city on a bus,” Garand said.

Security guards from Walmart have started issuing warnings to students, stating that they will be towing or ticketing vehicles that are left in the lot. The signs state that the lot is for “customer parking only” and that people cannot park there and leave the property. Garand has not been ticketed or towed, but she says she has been warned.

“Security staff at Walmart are warning university students [who] are parking in the back corner of the parking lot, stating that, if you park and leave the premises, you run the risk of being towed or being ticketed,” Garand said. “Somebody came to me personally and told me this… However, that was probably about a month ago, and I have been parking there since, and nothing’s happened.”

Harvard Property Management Inc. is the company that owns the parking lot at Preston Crossing, and staff at Harvard indicate that the lot is for customers only and that they may or may not ticket those who park there and leave the premises.

At the University Students’ Council meeting on Oct. 19, Deena Kapacila, vice-president operations and finance, put together an ad hoc transit committee. One of their focuses will be designating a park-and-ride location for students as an alternative to parking in commercial lots.

This initiative may help students who have a hard time paying for parking on campus. Garand believes that, as a student, paying for parking can be difficult.

“There is limited parking at the U of S, and when you do park, it is rather expensive to park there, whether you get a year pass or you’re paying daily,” Garand said. “I think that’s a pretty high cost for students to have to pay on top of their tuition, books and everything else.”

There are other options for transportation at the U of S, such as parking on a nearby residential street and walking to campus, biking and carpooling. The university has a ride-matching program called UCommute, where they match students from the same neighbourhoods to share rides. This service has no cost and can be accessed through PAWS.

There have been no confirmations that any vehicles parked at Preston Crossing have been ticketed or towed, but Garand believes that Harvard PM could act on their warnings at any time, and she explains that, although it is inconvenient for students, the company does have good reasons for issuing warnings.

“I do understand where Walmart’s coming from when they say they want to ticket,” Garand said. “From my point of view, I think it’s maybe a little bit unnecessary.”

Lyndsay Afseth / Staff Writer

Photo: Sidney Ray Shacter