The pilot project at the south Edmonton sports facility began Thursday. Paid parking is now in place for 174 of the stalls at the Saville, according to U of A spokesperson Hallie Brodie.
The pilot project was brought in as a way to recover costs associated with parking operations and maintenance, according to the university.
Parking will cost $2.50 for two hours or $5.00 for four hours. The university said paid parking spaces can only be purchased for a maximum of four hours on weekdays to mitigate the use of Park & Ride.
On the weekend and during designated tournament days, parking is $10 for the day in the paid stalls.
Brodie said 600 of the stalls at the Saville will remain open for people to park for free.
“The majority of parking spaces at the Saville Centre will continue to be free, while a new pilot project will see a minimal parking fee introduced for a small number of spaces,” she said in an email to Global News.
All accessible parking spaces adjacent to the Saville Centre facility remain free of charge 24 hours, seven days a week, for vehicles with disabled placards, the university said. The majority of Lot J, as well as the Foote Field parking lot, remain free.
However, the move to paid parking has raised concerns for some who use the facility and say parking is already hard to come by at the site.
“Taking away free, accessible parking will cause a burden for families having to pay to bring their children to our facility and to our programs, especially during the cold, dark winter months,” said Mark Hughes, past-president of the GO Community Centre.
The GO Community Centre is a charitable, non-profit organization developed through partnerships with a number of community organizations. The organization operate the gymnastics, volleyball and basketball portion of the Saville Community Sports Centre.
“Other facilities do not charge for parking, undermining our organizations’ ability to succeed,” Hughes said.
“Parking is already an issue for young families, this just exacerbates it. And on weekends, when there are tournaments or events, the parking available is already oversubscribed.”
The organization also believes the removal of free parking at the site is a violation of the GO Centre Venture Agreement, which was signed by the U of A and the GCC prior to construction. According to the agreement, the university is required to “provide free parking in relative proximity to the GO Centre for users of the GO Centre.”
The university, however, maintains 600 stalls remain open for free parking.
“We do believe that this pilot is consistent with the terms of the GO Centre Venture Agreement,” Brodie said.
The GCC said it has sent a letter to the president and provost of the university asking that they suspend the parking pilot.
“The GCC is open to resolutions which represent a fair compromise for all parties, but this proposal is not the right one for the user groups at the facility,” a statement from the GCC read.
The Saville Community and Sports Centre is located on the University of Alberta’s south campus in the area of 116 Street and 65 Avenue.