GO Community Centre Board objects to University of Alberta pay parking pilot at Saville Community Sports Centre
Proposal is incongruent with terms of the facility partnership agreement

(September 30, 2020) Unilateral action by the University of Alberta to remove nearly 30 percent of the available free parking at the Saville Community Sports Centre, effective October 1, 2020, is a violation of the partnership agreement, and negatively impacts Edmonton families and patrons using the facility, just as they are beginning to return following a lengthy COVID-19 closure.

The GO Community Centre (GCC) was conceived as a facility to promote and support community engagement with sports programs and affordable accessible parking was identified as an essential characteristic. In fact, it was the promise of free parking for GO Centre users that enticed the founders to build the facility on University land, rather than at an alternate location.

The GO Centre Venture Agreement (GCVA), signed by both the University of Alberta and the GCC prior to construction, specifies the roles, responsibilities, and obligations of all parties for the facility. Article 2.03 (c) requires the University, on an ongoing basis, to “provide free parking in relative proximity to the GO Centre for users of the GO Centre”. The University of Alberta’s action to bring in paid parking at this lot breeches both the spirit and letter of the GO Centre Venture Agreement.

“Taking away free, accessible parking will cause a burden for families having to pay to bring their children to our facility and to our programs, especially during the cold, dark winter months,” said Mark Hughes, Past-President GO Community Centre. Other facilities do not charge for parking, undermining our organizations’ ability to succeed. Parking is already an issue for young families, this just exacerbates it, and on weekends when there are tournaments or events, the parking available is already oversubscribed.”

University administration has tried to back out of its contracted agreement for free parking for Centre users in the past, notably in 2016 and in 2018. The GCC has attempted to work with the University to find a solution which addresses the University’s needs while ensuring accessibility for GO Centre users.

“Instead of working together to find a workable solution, the University unilaterally decided to launch its ‘South Campus Parking Pilot’ on October 1, which will convert nearly 30 percent of the available free parking for Centre users to hourly pay parking, at rates set by the University, for the benefit of only the University,” said Hughes.

The GCC sent a letter requesting the University suspend this parking pilot, and resume discussions to address the parking issue in a manner that respects its obligations. The GCC is open to resolutions which represent a fair compromise for all parties, but this proposal is not the right one for the user groups at the facility.

In the letter, dated September 29, to University President  Dr. Bill Flanagan and Provost Dr. Steven Drew, Lydia Migus, President of the GO Community Centre stated, “Should the University move forward with its proposal for the “South Campus Parking Pilot”, the GCC will consider this a default under the GO Centre Venture Agreement and take appropriate steps thereunder.”

GCC_Parking_Letter_to_the_U_of_A_-_September_29,_2020 (PDF)

MEDIA NOTE: Mark Hughes, Past-President GO Community Centre is available for comment on this issue. Please connect with Parker Hogan, media contact, to arrange a telephone interview.

Media contact for the GO Community Centre:
Parker Hogan
The Hogan Group

About the GO Community Centre

The GO Community Centre is a charitable, non-profit organization developed through partnerships with a number of community organizations (Edmonton Grads Basketball Centre, Ortona Gymnastics, and Edmonton Volleyball Centre Society). Together they partnered with the University of Alberta to create a multi-use recreational facility to operate the gymnastics, volleyball and basketball portion of the Saville Community Sports Centre.

The facility has 350,000 square feet (32 516 m2) of recreational space and was the first of its kind built in Canada.  It also has the largest (240,000 sq.ft) hardwood floor installation in North America, housing the North Gyms, South Gyms and the Competition Gym. The gyms can accommodate 12 FIBA basketball courts, 24 volleyball courts, or 30 badminton courts in any combination depending on need. The 22,000 ft2 Competition Gym features multipurpose spaces and meeting rooms suitable for sporting events, trade shows and banquets with permanent bleacher seating for 2,500 people. The Ortona Gymnastics Club (21,000 ft2) features a variety of Olympic-standard equipment, including spring gymnastics floor, spring tumbling floor, trampoline, foam pits, ropes, bars, rings, beams, vaults, numerous tumbling training aids, a second floor family viewing area and a licensed pre-school.  Other amenities include a fitness and lifestyle centre, indoor track and multipurpose activity spaces.

The GO Community Centre is committed to maintaining this unique, world-class recreation facility that is focused on serving individuals, families and league teams in the Capital region.