by Alex Watkins (News Writer)
In mid-October, many Abbotsford Heat fans received an email announcing changes to parking rates in the lots surrounding the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (AESC) that were coming into effect. The new charge is $10.00 for the evening. However, Ian McAskill – who recently acted as Director of Facility Services at UFV – assured students that they would continue to receive their normal rates if parking on UFV’s parking lots 6 through 10 on event nights.
According to McAskill, there are guards in place during events who ask drivers wishing to park at the lower rate to present student IDs and who direct them accordingly. He stated that students who have neglected to get an ID or who don’t have it at the time can attempt to explain their situation to the guards and show them their textbooks, adding that the guards generally “can tell who a student is as opposed to an event patron.” However, he encouraged all students to get student IDs in order to make the process easier.
McAskill said that UFV students possessing an ID card can use the designated lots and pay the normal rate even if they are attending an event, “On [an] event night, there’s no questioning of students about whether or not they’re going to class… all they have to do is show their student card, and they park in… [lots] six to ten… so whether they’re going to school or going to a game, we can’t really tell.”
Additionally, he noted that parking for carpooling UFV students is free on game nights; that is, as long as two or more students in the same vehicle can present their ID’s, they will be given a pass to display in lieu of payment. McAskill said that the concept of giving free parking to carpoolers on game night actually benefits UFV because it “is really a concept of enabling more people to share in our parking lots. So if students carpool, that frees up a space, which we can then sell.”
McAskill said that charging patrons an increased rate for parking on event nights is reasonable because the spaces become more valuable. He noted that UFV consulted with the staff working at the AESC to determine what kind of a rate was offered at similar venues. He said they were told, “Well, at these kind of events, at the other places that we manage, ten dollars.” According to McAskill, UFV has been charging special event rates since the AESC opened.
It is costly for UFV to hold events, and the revenue generated from parking helps to cover these costs. McAskill explained: “At different types of events the costs vary. If it’s a full event, we have to have traffic control, we have to have guards, we have to have extra student patrollers and so forth. And some nights it’s quite a bit.”
Additionally, he stated that parking revenue is an important source of funding for other projects and activities. “We’ve also engaged in some capital projects like the ring road that’s out back, and that’s funded from our revenue that we make from pay parking. It’ll take us many years to pay it off, but it’s all kind of self-funded in the sense that we’ve made that improvement to make… access and parking safer and better for students, and so… we have to have that revenue to pay for it.”
Overall, McAskill feels that, in comparison to other campuses and arenas, the parking rates offered by UFV are by no means above average. As he said, “Students pay everywhere for parking, they pay at UBC, SFU… it’s just a fact of life. Parking costs [money], and so we established a rate because we have costs… So ten dollar parking is quite reasonable for events, people don’t mind paying that.”