Future of Queen’s Centre uncertain

OISE Open House

Phases II and III officially put on hold until additional funding can be secured

Last Friday, students and faculty celebrated the official wrap-up ceremony of Phase I of the Queen’s Centre. The facility is set to open in September 2009.
Last Friday, students and faculty celebrated the official wrap-up ceremony of Phase I of the Queen’s Centre. The facility is set to open in September 2009.

Future plans for the Queen’s Centre are up in the air as the construction of Phases II and III of the Queen’s Centre are being put on hold, indefinitely, said Associate Vice-Principal (Facilities) Ann Browne.

“Very simply, I have been told when we have funding, we will move forward. Until we have funding we will not be moving forward at all. That’s where we’re at right now,” she said. “That’s a difficult decision to have to be made at this point in time. We, of course, would have loved to have gone into the next phase, no matter which one it was. This is whether it was going to be the field house or the new student building, either one of those—we can work either way. But, certainly until we get funding, we can’t do anything.”

Browne said the funding will have to come from alumni donations or loans.

“It’s not even government funding we’re going to get for this project. It’s more from the fundraising side and also borrowing, we’re going to have to borrow to do it,” she said. “Until we have that capacity to do so, the board is not going to approve anything. Whether it’s a bank, government loan or whatever it’s going to be, it’s just borrowing from a third party.”

Browne said any decisions as to the future of the project likely won’t be made until the October Board of Trustees meeting.

“I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know. It will be when the board and the new principal comes in, we’ll probably be revisiting that as soon as he gets here as to what we should be doing.”

This news comes following the official wrap-up of the opening of Phase I of the Queen’s Centre last Friday.

“It’s really a delight to be able to stand here today and point over there and say that it’s actually going to be open for your use in the fall. I think that’s an absolutely wonderful accomplishment for Queen’s to have a state of the art physical recreation facility,” Principal Tom Williams said Friday, in his speech.

After the opening, a tour of the centre was held for representatives from the media, the AMS and the University administration.

Phase I of the centre will include three gyms for varsity sports and recreation programs. The primary gym will seat 2,000 spectators; more than double the capacity of Bartlett Gym. Director of Athletics and Recreation Leslie Dal Cin, who led the tour, said the centre is designed around the primary gym, so students working out in one of the fitness rooms or standing on the balcony above the squash courts can watch varsity games on the main court as well.

“It’s totally accessible from a viewing standpoint from anywhere in the building,” she said.

Phase I will also include 10 team-specific rooms for Queen’s varsity teams and four changerooms that can be used for visiting teams or as family changerooms for casual recreation, as well as a lounge for varsity alumni and two press boxes. Currently, varsity teams have to share changerooms with other gym users. In the Queen’s Centre, the team rooms are bare areas with concrete flooring and locker mounts, but the plan is for them to evolve into self-contained areas for each team with showers, whiteboards and a coach’s room.

Casual recreation facilities are also expected to improve. The new pool will be 38 metres by 25 metres, double the size of the current pool. It will feature four diving boards, swim meet rooms, a mezzanine and a tongue and grove fir wooden ceiling to absorb moisture without rotting. The centre will also include eight international-level glass-backed squash courts, two racquetball courts, two 3,000-foot cardio spaces, one 3,500-foot cardio space, four dance studios, two rooms for wrestling and martial arts clubs, two aerobic rooms, a 5,000-square foot heavy weight room and a 10,000-square foot general fitness room.

Student life facilities will be included in the Phase I as well. A new area set up for the Common Ground will double the size of the current location. A food court will provide other options, while a fireside lounge will provide students with space to study or relax. Retail space and club space will also be included.

Most of the building’s structure is already in place, but it still features bare concrete floors and supports. The basic architecture appears roomier than the PEC, with taller and wider hallways. The ground floor features the gyms and changerooms, with most of the squash courts and dance studios higher up and the Common Ground and club space at the top.

Site superintendent Ray Metro estimated there are 250 men working on the site every day, which will be increased to 350 as the phase grows closer to completion. Metro said his team has put in 350,000 hours of work to date.

AMS Internal Affairs Commissioner Alexa Glendron-O’Donnell was one of those on hand for the tour. She said the most exciting features of the new building are its open concept and large amount of clubs space.

“The amount of light that’s captured in that building is really amazing. The amount of programmable space, the openness of the area and the flowthrough of traffic, I think is going to be a huge improvement on what we have right now,” she said. “It’s a really open space that hopefully will be inclusive to many groups of students, whether they’re athletes, students at large, grad, undergrad, really everyone will feel really comfortable using all that great space.”

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