U of A swaps 30% free parking spots for paid at Saville Centre, sparks dispute with non-profit operator

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“Maybe during a pandemic, when the facility is not being used as much and the parking is a little empty, is a nice way to sneak in the paid parking.”

The promise of free parking is what enticed the founders to build on U of A lands instead of those offered by the city, Hughes said. It’s also part of the agreement the school signed with GO Community Sports when the facility was built.

“The university has agreed to a deal that would allow … people who live in the city to access this facility, and now they’re trying to do a cash-grab,” he said.

Charging for parking is a pilot project by the university.

Geoff Rode, director of operations with ancillary services at U of A, said in an email statement Thursday more than 600 stalls in the centre’s and Foote Field lots will still be free 24/7. Adding a fee is not about profit, he said.

“The paid parking pilot project is solely a cost recovery effort and will generate no revenue for the institution. The parking fees will be used to offset the costs incurred for the parking operations which include things like snow removal, maintenance, and enforcement,” Rode said.

Parking issues at the Saville Community Sports Centre, formerly the GO Centre, were also a factor in negotiations between the University of Alberta and the city in 2016 to help fund a $65-million twin arena and high-performance centre.

lboothby@postmedia.com

@laurby

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