A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the University of Victoria for parking fees not refunded when classes ended as a result of the pandemic.
The suit, filed by student Elizabeth Cheeke, states it is on behalf of any faculty, staff, student or visitor who purchased a parking permit from UVic effective between March 16 and Aug. 31.
“It just comes down to the refund,” says Mitch Selly, lead counsel for Cheeke. “There’s no allegations of anything malicious or fraudulent or anything like that happening. It’s just, give the class the refund for the parking.”
UVic has not provided in-person course instruction since March 16, shortly after the coronavirus outbreak was deemed a pandemic. The lawsuit says UVic suspended pay parking for those that pay on a daily or hourly basis on March 20, but announced it would not issue partial refunds for those with permit contracts.
Summer courses have also moved online.
Selly says a “number of people” have been in contact with him about this issue, but added anyone can opt-out of the class-action if they wish to do so.
Paul Marck, associate manager of public affairs for UVic, told Black Press Media that the school is aware of the lawsuit, but would not offer any further comment as it “is now before the courts.”
During the 2019/2020 school year, UVic sold 4,190 parking permits. The fee for an annual general parking pass is $568.05 plus GST and PST.
According to Marck, parking fees contribute to the operation of Campus Security Services and to the maintenance and upgrading of the parking infrastructure, which “are continuing costs throughout the year.”
Selly says that while UVic has taken a lot of responsible action throughout the pandemic by shifting to an online approach, the parking contract has been “frustrated,” meaning that without fault to either party, the contract is incapable of being performed due to an unforeseen circumstance.
He adds that many students are employed through the service industry which has been “totally decimated by COVID.”
“So, [these are] people who it would do some good to give them, even if it’s just a partial refund, all the little bit can help,” he says. “Students are in a precarious financial situation so that’s really what the class action is all about.”
The school has 21 days to file a response to the claim.
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