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McMaster's Parking Non-Problem Problem.

Looking at McMaster University's plan to build a $12-million dollar parking garage at the site of current Parking Lot K, west of Cootes Drive.

The University Planning Committee minutes from March 18, 2020 cite the need to replace their 490-stall Ward Avenue parking lot by 2024. That's the only reason given.

View of parking lot K from automated gate, parking lot surrounded by trees

Let's do some math: $12 mil/490 spaces=$24,489.00 per stall, which is in line with rough pricing per stall in parking structures.

In McMaster's 2011 Campus Master Plan (CMP’11), they identified lot K & 4 other campus sites for potential “Academic, research or residence *above parking structure* & Lot i as a “parking structure” site.

Now it looks like Lot K loses the "Academic, research or residence" part and becomes just a "parking structure."

But wait! The more recent Facility Services Capital Plan Update 2021/2022 has a $17-million price tag for the structure. That's almost a 42% increase on the March 2020 UPC’s $12 million. This puts each parking stall at $34,693, an increase per stall of more than $10,000.00

The most recent Campus Master Plan (2017) shares that

"Of 3,728 parking spaces analyzed, data showed peak utilization for 3,003 parking spaces. This equates to 81% of the parking spaces"

Even without Ward Avenue's 490 spaces, there's enough capacity.


What does McMaster say about parking demand?

"Drivers parking at the University appear to be cost-conscious & elect to park further away to reduce their parking costs. Similarly, if parking rates are increased, these users may seek different modes to access the campus (e.g. transit)"


“Parking supply should be managed and not designed for the peak period; doing so would be fiscally irresponsible and would not encourage the use of more sustainable modes”

& wisely recommend to

"Explore strategies to increase parking costs in order to reduce demand and encourage users to travel via transit and/or cycling. This will need to be introduced strategically to ensure receptivity”


In September 2020, McMaster parking prices went up, but NOT in Lots

  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D
  • I
  • Q
  • Underground Wilson
  • Lot M
  • Lot P
  • and accessible Lots in A, B, C, D, E, I, Underground Wilson & Underground Stadium, MDCL, IWC and Mills Library.
Prices are holding steady here, and I couldn't find a mention of Ward Ave.

So it's Only lots G, H and Underground Stadium where prices were moderately increased (up by $1.00/hour). These increases impact less than 700 parking spaces or about 14% of McMaster's parking supply. All in North East campus.

Considering McMaster's awareness of parking cost-influencing behaviour, cost increases don't appear to be applied in a way to get desired results.


A 2007 paper (Becker) found 27% of parking permit holders at McMaster live within 4 kilometres of campus, 37% live within 5km, & over 1/3 of staff are parking permit holders living within 5k of campus.

Light Rail Transit between McMaster and Eastgate Square is coming. With the added capacity and general reliability and comfort offered by higher-order transit, McMaster could look at transit passes for staff and faculty.

Remote work will remain once the pandemic is under control. Both remote work and increase transit suggest there are feasible options to reduce parking demand.


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