A public meeting hosted by student activist group Student Voice last week saw students and the DCC go head to head over a parking proposal.
As Critic previously covered, the DCC has recently installed more Pay and Display parking meters around North Dunedin, and have proposed that 185 free parking spaces be transformed into metered parking on Clyde St, Union St East, Harbour Tce, Forth St and Albany St. On Union St, only seven spaces are proposed to stay as resident-only parking. The DCC said their proposed changes are in accordance with a recent parking survey, which looked at parking availability around the University of Otago and Polytech.
But students were not happy, and Student Voice decided to host a submissions workshop and Q&A session in the Evison Lounge on Wednesday and Thursday last week.
At the Q&A session, DCC Transport Group Manager Richie Saunders said the proposed changes were to “better balance the needs of short term and long term parking to enable flexible parking with no time restrictions”. He said 801 responses were received in the citywide parking survey, which is “a lot for a Council Project”. However, the survey was open in May 2018, during University exams and Saunders was not aware if the student body was ever notified. He said submissions for the parking meters present in the campus area were open from November 5th to 23rd, bang on the University’s other exam period and the summer holidays.
Student Voice Leader Matthew Schep said “you have to question the accessibility of the survey. If you are wanting to implement change within the area and do not have a strategy to target students, then you aren’t targeting the right people.” He said the DCC “have failed to initiate or set up [consultation] processes themselves. As a result, Student Voice are setting up these spaces for them.”
Matthew Schep told Richie Saunders that, under the current proposal, 21 student flats would have only 7 parks between them. Saunders admitted this was “not enough”. He said that “we expect feedback on this, residential parking can be made available on application”. Any parking changes will not be rolled out any time this year, with work being confined to summer periods as to not disrupt students, he said.
OUSA President James Heath said the DCC should look at providing replacements for students, such as working alongside the ORC to provide cheaper, more functional and more sustainable public transport for students. Heath said “it's always worrying to hear of an increase in costs for students - particularly when it comes to something like parking outside your own house.”
Chris Ford, Community Networker for Disabled Persons Assembly New Zealand, was at the Q&A and said there is a high need for sufficient disability and mobility parking located in residential areas. “Strategic parking in campus area is very important for disabled staff and students,” he said. Ford stressed that disabled people should be “involved with not only consultation but co-design”.
University Property Services Division Director Dean Macaulay said that there are currently 37 parks on their Dunedin campus available to students with disabilities, with permits available from the Uni’s Disability Information and Support Office. He said, “the University is currently doing work to investigate the possibility of a new car park operating model that could provide more flexibility and increase the use and availability of existing University car parks”. Students who require parking can apply for a leased park at a cost of $16 to $21.43 a week, which, Critic would like to say, is bloody expensive. There’s also a waiting list.
Public consultation is open until 5pm on the 21st May. https://www.dunedin.govt.nz/do-it-online/have-your-say/tertiary-precinct-and-jetty-street-parking-changes-feedback-form
For disability parking permits contact: email@example.com or phone 03 479 8235.