UTM has approved a recommendation to build a new parking deck on campus along with an increase in permit prices and other ancillary fees, in the face of opposition from UTMSU.
Funding for new projects and for upgrading existing ones was a major focus of the Campus Affairs Committee meeting last Thursday, held in Council Chambers.
The meeting, which was attended by UTMSU president Hassan Havili and VP external Ebi Agbeyegbe, was the first time this year that the CAC considered approval for a capital project.
Chief administrative officer Paul Donoghue spoke in depth about the proposal for a parking deck expansion, which is part of a long-term expansion plan that involved the construction of the first parking deck in 2010/11. The second parking deck was originally set to be built in 2016, but Donoghue said that the plan has been brought forward by a year because of the population increase in the UTM community and because Parking Lot 1 will temporarily be going out of service due to construction in the North Building.
“I am asked, ‘Why didn’t you just make the deck the first time?’ […],” said Donoghue. “It would’ve caused an increase in costs and resulted in excess capacity. The plan was to sequentially increase.”
Donoghue explained that the cost amounts to an increase of 6–8¢ per day for a 12-month permit.
The project will include about 300 new parking spots, though relatively fewer accessible spots, and is expected to be in service by this August.
In his presentation, Donoghue also described how the parking deck—to be built at the south end of the UTM campus—would keep with “environment sensitivity” concerns expressed by UTM principal Deep Saini, and will not be “aesthetically offensive” because it would not expand “hard landscape”.
Parking fees were a major topic at the UTM Town Hall held last semester, with multiple UTMSU representatives speaking against the high cost of parking on campus.
The motion was passed, with objections from UTMSU president and VP external, who were attending as guests.
Donoghue also explained that revenue from the fees is not aimed at maximizing surplus, and that any surplus generated would only contribute to the capital reserve for parking, which also funds projects such as these.
The yearly increase of 3% in parking permit prices was also approved.
The proposed increase in the ancillary fees is to be presented to the UTM Campus Council on February 5 for further approval, as will the parking deck proposal for recommendation, before both proposals go to the Executive Committee for confirmation in March.
The meeting also included presentations by Chad Nuttall, director of Student Housing & Residence Life, who explained that the department currently faces a $400,000 deficit due to an unexpected $1.3 million cost of repairs at Erindale Hall.
Nuttall assured the committee that the deficit would be resolved by the 2016/17 academic year.
He went on to propose a 5.5% increase in residence rates, which was approved by the committee.
Vicky Jezierski, the director of Hospitality and Retail Services, described the investments being made in food services at UTM.
She said the Food Services Advisory Committee had met with two designers to discus the construction of a new food court in the Davis Building, along with an addition of a Tim Hortons to the North Side Bistro.
Jezierski also said that fewer residence rooms had caused a decline in Conference Services’ revenue. Jezierski said that the loss of 100 rooms in Erindale Hall—which have been turned into offices for UTM departments that were relocated for the second phase of construction in the North Building—meant the loss of 100 meal plans.
Her presentation also pointed to fewer rooms being available in OPH because of more students renting rooms over the summer, along with international students participating in the ACE@UTM program, as causes for the shortfall in the budget.
Jezierski proposed a 2.8% increase in retail food prices, and a 1.5% increase in meal plan prices. The vote for this motion was also in favour and was passed.
Financial aid and other topics were also discussed at the meeting, which was followed by an in-camera session discussing the report of the Project Planning Committee on the costs and funding for the parking deck expansion.