New on-campus parking rates


[img_inline align=”” src=”” caption=”The University is responding to a growing parking concern.”]There is probably no bigger topic of conversation on campus than parking. In the last several years as McMaster's growth has boomed the University's parking program has responded to the challenges created by this growth.

There has been increased interest in alternative commuting through public transit and carpooling, cycling and walking, but these initiatives have not lessened the demand for single-occupant car parking.

The reasons vary: some people commute to campus from out of town or from rural areas where public transportation is sporadic or non-existent. For others, their jobs require them to travel to and from campus frequently at various times of the day and evening. For many, it is simply a case of personal comfort and convenience.

The cost of providing and maintaining parking is paid for by the parking users, both permit holders and visitors. Just as transit users must pay for their monthly bus pass, drivers of cars or motorcycles are charged for the parking space they use. As a point of comparison the monthly HSR bus pass is $65.

As of September 1, 2006, two rate changes will occur that will have an immediate impact on parking permit holders.

First, parking rates will increase. All central campus parking will be priced at one price. This recognizes the proximity and convenience of central campus parking. Those who park in zones 1, 2, 3, 3NX, and Ward Avenue will pay $66 per month (inclusive of taxes).

Those who park in zones 4, 5, and on the north loop of Michell Crescent in the gravel lots will, pay $44 a month. Those with permits for zones 6 and 7, disabled parking and evening-only and weekend-only parking will, pay $28 per month.

Second, in order to finance the cost of the underground parking garage beneath the Ron V. Joyce Stadium, which will provide 340 parking spaces, each permit holder on campus regardless of where they park will pay a levy of $10 a month, or roughly 50 cents per day. The levy, which was approved in June by the Board of Governors and the Finance Committee, will be in place for 20 years, and will rise slightly each year over the next three years: In Fall of 2007, the levy will rise to $12; in Fall of 2008, the levy will rise to $14 where it will be capped for the remainder of the 20-year term.

It is important to clarify that the parking levy is not being used, as has been rumoured, to pay for the construction of the Stadium. It is paying only for the cost of the parking garage, which will cost approximately $12-million. This works out to $35,000 per parking space.

“Underground parking is very expensive, but is a necessity to support the growth of the University,” says Karen Belaire, Vice-president, Administration. “The expansion of our academic and research initiatives which require additional space presents a challenge within our campus borders. Underground parking and multi-level parking structures will be required to meet the demand as long as the car continues to be the commuting mode of choice for the majority of our employees and visitors.”

The parking levy will initially cover about $500,000 of the annual parking garage costs. The balance will be paid through parking permits purchased for stadium parking, and by visitor parking at the stadium. The parking garage will be completed in September, 2007. Underground Stadium parking permits will cost $95 per month and will be available through the priority parking system currently in place.

How does McMaster's parking rates compare to other universities? McMaster University is lower on the parking rate list compared to the University of Toronto, York, Waterloo, Carleton, University of Ottawa, and Algonquin College. McMaster's rates are also competitive with commercial lots in downtown Hamilton. (McMaster employees who park in the underground parking garage at the downtown courthouse campus pay $125 per month.)

Here's an example of the new rate structure on campus: A Zone 1 permit plus the $10 per month levy will cost $912 a year or less than $4 per day; a Zone 7 permit will cost $456 per year or less than $2 per day. By comparison, market rates range from $7-$25 per day or $1,680-$6,000 per year.

If you have comments or questions concerning this matter, please contact the parking office at extension 24232 or via email at