Dealing with DOUBLE COHORT B Y R I C H A R D A. R I C H AND THOMAS ARNOLD S tarting in 2003, Ontario’s university system will be faced with an unprecedented influx of students as a result of the so-called “Double Cohort” phenomenon, through which provincial high schools will graduate twice as many students. As a result, our universities will be expected to accommodate 80,000 to 90,000 additional students in 2003 alone. At the same time, the Echo Boom generation (children of the Baby Boom) will continue to swell the roles of Ontario’s universities. The pressures on the university system will be immense, and university parking departments will be forced to bear more than their fair share. In fact, most parking administrators will suffer a double hit of sorts. First, they will have to provide thousands of new parking spaces to meet the needs of these new students. At York University, for instance, we anticipate that 2,000 new spaces will be needed. At the same time, many parking administrators will be faced with the loss of existing parking spaces, since universities will have to build new academic buildings, and in many cases, these buildings will be built over existing parking lots. To call this situation a challenge would be an understatement. Over the next few years, parking administrators will have to figure out how to replace thousands of lost parking spaces and add thousands more. And since development resources are so limited, they will likely go towards developing new classrooms and other educational uses. As a result, parking administrators will have to find ways to make parking pay for itself. As daunting as this may seem, it is by no means impossible. With careful planning and creativity, universities can meet this double cohort challenge. Building Up Many universities, particularly those that are located in urban settings, already face space limitations. The need to develop new academic, administrative, and recreational facilities on campus will only exacerbate the problem. For many, the most logical solution will be to develop these buildings on existing parking lots. Of course, while providing a solution for one problem, this approach causes a new set of problems for parking administrators by taking away existing parking spaces at a time when more parking is needed. The answer for many universities will be to build multi-level parking structures. Structures can accommodate more parkers over a much smaller area of land than parking lots. Properly designed, they can also provide a more comfortable, convenient, and The fact of the matter, however, is that these choices are safe parking environment. usually unnecessary. If properly planned and designed, there is no reason for any parking structure to sacrifice Paying the Cost either form or function. Like any other building on a university’s campus, a parking structure impacts the overall quality of life for students and faculty, and planners should Perhaps the greatest challenge that parking make every effort to assure that all parking facilities are administrators will face is how to pay for new structures. attractive and convenient, and that they provide a safe and While the government is underwriting some university pleasant parking experience. expansion through its “Super Build” program, these funds will be put towards the development of academic buildings. Universities will be forced to seek outside funding for new Planning is the Key parking structures, and will rely on parking revenues to pay for that financing. Ontario’s universities are on the cusp of an extended influx of students that will present enormous challenges to The most obvious strategy for achieving this goal is their parking managers. In a sense this is a defining time, through parking fees. Highly utilized parking structures can since the impact of decisions made today will be felt for generate tens of thousands of dollars for universities. And decades to come. Through effective planning, universities by utilizing advanced revenue control techniques such as can develop parking structures that will meet their parking pay-on-foot, parking managers can significantly cut costs. needs, while standing out as campus landmarks. Of course, parking fees can’t be assigned arbitrarily – careful planning and extensive research should be Tom Arnold is director of parking and transportation for York undertaken first. If fees are too high, students will seek University, as well as the president of the Canadian Parking Association. Rick Rich is executive director of parking planning for other options such as off-campus parking; if they are too Rich and Associates, a parking consultation and design firm with low, parking operators may not make enough money to offices in Windsor, Ontario and Southfield, Michigan. operate their facilities. Therefore, any parking study that is conducted prior to developing a new parking facility should address fee levels, as well as revenue control, and other related operational issues. Form and Function In developing new buildings, there are often pressures to choose between form and function. These pressures are often magnified in parking structures. Planners sometimes find themselves having to choose between design elements that provide the most efficient traffic flow, safety, or convenience, and elements that will make the structure more attractive or conform better to the overall fabric of its neighborhood.