Effective Oct. 1, parking at NIC will be free. Photo by Scott Strasser.

North Island College removes pay parking

The verdict is in — North Island College will remove pay parking at its Comox Valley campus. The college’s Board of Governors made the decision unanimously at its Sept. 28 meeting.

Effective Oct. 1, NIC students in the Valley will no longer have to pay to park their vehicles at the college. Students who pre-paid for parking beyond Oct. 1 will be reimbursed.

“Senior administration recommended to the board that we discontinue pay parking and the board voted unanimously in favour of that,” said NIC vice-president strategic initiatives Randall Heidt.

“We’re happy to remove any barriers that would keep anyone from attending NIC.”

The board’s decision was mainly due to Island Health’s Sept. 1 announcement that it would remove pay parking at its new hospital in the Comox Valley. The new hospital — which opens on Sunday — is located next to NIC.

College president John Bowman said NIC’s decision to implement pay parking in spring 2016 was mostly because Island Health originally planned to have pay parking at the new hospital. The worry was that hospital-goers would park at the college for free and walk over to the hospital.

“Obviously, the adjacency of the new Comox Valley hospital to our campus was a primary factor in [last spring’s] decision,” wrote Bowman in his September president’s newsletter.

Bowman admitted earlier this month that having pay parking was “probably the most unpopular thing” the college had ever done.

According to a 2016–17 report, NIC generated $221,673 in revenue in its first fiscal year of having pay parking (up to June 2017). Expenses totaled $317,669, mainly due to one-time startup costs of $195,077.

Despite a net loss in its first fiscal year, Heidt doesn’t believe the college will lose money over the board’s decision to remove pay parking.

“I don’t believe the college has lost any money,” he said. “There are a few things that have to go on with the company that was involved, in terms of how much notice we have to give them to finish contracts.”

“There are still some numbers we’ll be looking at in the next few months before all the exact numbers will be available.”

There are 520 parking spots at NIC’s Comox Valley campus.

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