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FROSH 2021: Parking on campus

By Rachneet Randhawa, September 7 2021—

Let’s face it, paying for daily parking on campus can be expensive and many of us live way out in the boonies to find riding the LRT line any good, despite the UPass program that’s offered to students. This is where some clever parking hacks can come in handy for the new school year. We can’t offer you completely free loopholes, but we can give you more affordable approaches, especially if you don’t mind taking the scenic route to campus at times. You only need to do a simple peruse of Reddit once in a while to pick up on more quick tips. So here’s our top five back-to-school tips for finding parking on or near the University of Calgary campus.

Parking pass: 

Getting a parking permit for the semester is the classic way to go — but also the most overpriced. A permit for the Arts parkade is $146.30 plus GST per month, totalling just under $600. Unless you work full time, or are juggling multiple responsibilities, this isn’t an ideal option — especially if you’re on a budget. Outside lots are about $20 cheaper, but again, it depends on your timetable and how much of a distance you need to walk to your classes. Getting a parking pass is an option, but only if you can afford it. 

McMahon Stadium: 

It’s not the ideal option, especially when the winter season rolls around. But it does offer a nifty flat rate of $5 for the whole day. Typically, if you’re there Monday to Friday for an entire month, you are looking at dropping $100 each month, or around $400 for the semester. This option is decent if you’re a broke university student, but you do have to go on a bit of a detour and take a stroll as the stadium lies adjacent to the campus. Look at it this way — it’ll be your daily dose of exercise. The only downside is if you are time-strapped, it’ll definitely be a nuisance at times.

Parking at Brentwood and riding the LRT: 

This is straightforward really — many who cannot afford overpriced parking rates opt to park their vehicle at one of the Calgary Transit stations and hop on the LRT. The nice thing about Brentwood is that it’s only one stop away and puts you smack-dab in the middle of the student-commuting-to-campus runway, so it’s a breeze. The only downside is that the station’s parking lot is always jam-packed. The only advice I can give is not to go during peak hours. For instance, for earlier lectures you have to get in bright and early — ideally between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. I have found though, that after lunchtime there are more vacant spaces. Past 1:00 p.m. you should manage to squeeze in there. 

Public parking lots close to campus: 

This can be a hit or miss. Hit, because you can easily find many empty spots in random strip malls and plazas. Miss, because let’s face, it all of them have those pesky “if you’re not a customer, you can’t park here” signs. But if you can manage to find a one-off lot — even some ways from campus — you can always hop on a city bus and make your way to campus. You wouldn’t really want to pay the price to ride transit, as again, the whole point of this is to save you some cash. But hey, it beats the daily and regular on-campus rates. Also, if you’re a part-time student, you may also qualify for the Low Income Monthly Pass — especially if you’re living on your own and renting with roommates with no financial support. Discounted rates range from $5.45 to $54.50 per month. It’s a headache to fill out the paperwork, but this will save you some savoury bucks in the long run. The only downside I see is that bus times can be unreliable, especially in the winter. I would suggest downloading the Calgary Transit app for up-to-date arrival and departure times if you decide to take this route. But surprisingly, Google Maps has worked just as well and is usually pretty accurate.

Rent a parking spot: 

This is the only option I haven’t tried out for myself — but from the looks of it, it shows promise. Use buy and sell platforms like Kijiji to your advantage, and find individuals near the University LRT station or closer to campus who are renting out their parking spots. There’s bound to be extra space in a garage pad, or sparse space in and around these nearby neighbourhood dwellings. If you can score some sort of private backyard lot for even $50 — or even less — per month, you’re still saving on half the costs of a standard U of C parking permit. This option also causes the least amount of convoluted stargazing to find daily parking spots. Simply park and walk a couple of minutes to campus, depending on what location you can score. 

Of course, our experiences are pre-pandemic. The campus may be more or less crowded than it was compared to previous years, but it’s always great to have backup options. So check out one of these hot hacks for parking in the upcoming school year. 

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