College of the Canyons celebrated the recent opening of its new $21 million, three-level parking structure with a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday.
City Councilwoman Laurene Weste and representatives who attended on behalf of local elected officials joined college trustees, staff and students in front of the parking structure Thursday morning, when COC Chancellor Dianne Van Hook acknowledged those in the audience who helped bring the project to life.
The 11-month project was highly anticipated by college students and staff, especially once one considers that parking has been the No. 1 concern among those who frequent the campus, Public Information Officer Eric Harnish said, citing previous college surveys.
The Measure E-funded parking structure increases parking at the Valencia campus by 25 percent as it adds 1,659 new parking spaces.
This means the new structure can provide adequate parking for as many as seven to eight years in the future, Van Hook said Thursday. But with enrollment expected to increase at least 13 percent in the coming years, the chancellor said this probably won’t be the only parking structure the college will build.
“I don’t know how many of you come here on a Friday night… but on a Friday night in the fall in particular, it’s like a zoo in here,” Van Hook said, mentioning high school football at the stadium, volleyball in the gym and multiple performances occurring in the Black Box Theater and Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center.
“Parking means access,” Van Hook said. “If students can’t get a place to park, they can’t get to class. It’s a pretty simple order of process.”
The structure also includes measures to promote sustainability, with a donation by FivePoint to provide 53 ClipperCreek electric car chargers that are installed in the structure.
“It’s all about sustainability and it’s all about change and innovation,” said FivePoint Community President Don Kimball, who spoke Thursday about the Valencia development company’s vision to create a master-planned community that will be fully sustainable with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Before posing for the final picture that preceded the ribbon cutting, Van Hook returned to the podium to make one last request of the audience.
“I would like all of you who have any influence over funding, partnerships (and) collaborations to think about how we can get a shuttle bus that is an electric vehicle donated so we can run shuttles back and forth from Valencia to Canyon Country for our students and staff,” Van Hook said. “It doesn’t seem to me…that this should be an undoable task.”