Photo Credit: Hafidh Satyanto (via Unsplash)
The Churchill Square shopping centre is located less than a 15-minute walk from the Memorial University campus, making it an ideal location for students to take advantage of the free parking, banking, post office and takeout options offered there.
The City of St. John’s is currently circulating a concept design for a new take on the usage of Churchill Square’s available space. The City is seeking input from current public users of the space on the concept.
The concept design that has been proposed by KMK Properties will make use of the space that was once occupied by Dominion and an adjoining dry cleaner. In place of these single-storey vacant buildings, KMK wants to build a six-story apartment building that will house 78 apartments. These apartments will include one and two-bedroom units and will require permit parking for their tenants.
While students are rightly worried about a reduction in the parking area of Churchill Square if these renovations take place, the concept design suggests that the current area for public parking in the square will remain unchanged and available for public use. There will be private parking made available for 40 of the 78 required permits for the new apartment building. These will be in an underground parking area.
There will be a slight reduction in public parking area such as would be used by students of MUN as free parking. This will occur as a result of 38 of the 78 tenants of the new building needing to park in the public area. Although there are only 124 unmetered parking spots in the public parking area of Churchill Square, this still leaves 253 metered parking spots for students to park in if they wish, as well as a majority of the unmetered parking spots.
There is, however, a recommendation made by the City in the concept design to convert all of Churchill Square’s available parking to paid parking. If this is implemented, it will put an end to unmetered parking spots in the square, and although students will still be able to park in the lot, they will need to pay by the hour to avoid being ticketed.
This adjustment will make it unlikely that students will continue to choose to park in the Churchill Square lot, as metered parking poses an inconvenience and is a source of stress for many students who aren’t permitted to park on the MUN campus. The loss of the Churchill Square parking lot in addition to the lot that we lost to the new science building means that it is becoming increasingly difficult for MUN students to park in the vicinity of the university.
Understandably, the businesses that operate in Churchill Square may not want their parking spaces taken up by students attending university classes. However, the convenience of the Square’s location also makes it an ideal place for students to go for lunch breaks, banking needs, and so on.
On the positive side, these renovations may allow students to occupy the newly constructed apartment buildings, depending on the price range that is estimated for monthly rent. However, the modernizations made to Churchill Square may be sacrificing its usefulness to students in many other ways.
We must remember that the concept design is open to public scrutiny, so there is still a chance that if enough students come forward and disagree with the developments, then some changes in the concept might occur. This evolution of Churchill Square will push students that much farther towards the brink of outrage at the lack of parking space offered by the university. Ideally, MUN should offer parking space for all of its paying students, but at the very least there should be adequate parking for students for whom public transportation and ride-sharing is not an option.
If this concept design passes scrutinization and begins development, MUN students will have to make serious considerations towards putting up a greater fight for parking space from the University.
The full concept design may be viewed here.