Board of Trustees set to vote on $87.5 million Wellness Centre project

University District

Meeting will also include discussion on $31.8 million biomedical research facility

Board of Trustees set to vote on $87.5 million Wellness Centre project
The project would include the complete interior demolition of the Physical Education Centre (PEC).
Credit: 
Journal file photo

During the July 14 meeting of the Queen’s Board of Trustees, over $100 million in University funds will be discussed — and potentially approved — for major capital projects. 

On the recommendation of the Queen’s University Planning Committee and the Capital Assets and Finance Committee, the Board will vote to approve the budget for a new Innovation and Wellness Centre capital project. 

The proposed center would be located in the current Physical Education Centre (PEC), would provide space for “engineering, innovation and health and wellness” according to the report before the board.

The project would include the complete interior demolition of the PEC, which will provide approximately 183,000 gross assignable square feet of space in the heart of the campus.

“Given the building’s sound structural shape, renovation of the building will provide a considerable amount of additional and vitally needed space at a relatively low cost per square foot, when compared to a newly constructed facility," the report says. 

It is unclear how much of Student Wellness Services (SWS) will be relocated to the new centre, in light of the spacial limitations of its current home in the LaSalle building.

“The wellness centre will also provide enhanced and integrated counseling services, including academic support services, tutoring programs, mental health education and literacy information, faith-based support, peer-to-peer support programs, exam accommodation, and care for international students and vulnerable populations,” the report states.

The centre’s costs total at $87.5 million, and would include $1.85 million in planning funds previously approved by the Board. Queen’s is in the “advanced planning stage” of the project, the report reads. 

These funds are recommended conditionally, provided that the total funding is secured through a combination of government funding, existing and uncommitted funds, and contract pledges. 

The report states that demolition could begin this September if full funding is secured, in which case the estimated project completion date will be April 2018. The report also states that the University has recently hired Ellis Don as the construction manager for the project, however, official plans for the project have yet to be released publicly.

$69.8 million is estimated in hard construction costs, with $17.7 million in “soft costs”. Both have been calculated with a 10% contingency. So far, the University has raised or identified all but $18.4 million of the required funds for the project.

As for the engineering portion of the centre, it will house the Water Research Centre, including a Level II Biohazard suite of laboratories. The revitalized facility will also become the permanent home for Queen’s Innovation Connector, offerings students from all faculties the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship and innovation in an interdisciplinary environment.

A second major capital project is also set for Board review, which would revitalize the Queen’s biomedical research facility at a cost of $31.865 million — $17.9 million in hard construction costs and $13.965 million in soft costs.

$555,000 in planning funds have previously been approved for the project, included in the $31 million figure. 

Similar to the Wellness Centre, funds would be secured through government funding, existing and uncommitted funds, contract pledges, and an internal loan of up to $12.98 million.

Any loans for the project would also require securing before construction or demolition began and will be repaid over five years through the $3.1 million Faculty of Health Sciences operating reserves and committed government funding. 

The Board approved the project in principle during their meeting on May 7, on the recommendation of the Capital Assets and Finance Committee.

At the time, preparing architectural drawings and a more specific estimate were approved for the project, however, those plans have also yet to be released publicly. 

The new biomedical research facility would support discoveries in cancer cell growth, brain function and heart-lung interactions, with the goal of supporting new therapies and surgical methods. 

According to the Board report, renovated facilities would also allow the use of “leading-edge molecular tools", and would amplify retention and recruitment of graduate students and faculty. 

In the July 14 meeting, the Board will round out the discussion on the two major capital projects with a motion from Daniel Woolf on philanthropic namings around the University. 

The “Plumley Entrance” is recommended for creation at the newly-revitalized Richardson Stadium, in honour of the late Kent Plumley, BSc’60, LLB’63, and Sandra Plumley BA'66, whose donation in 2014 was directed towards the stadium project. 

As well, the motion seeks to dedicate Section 105 of the stands to Greg McKellar, who retired from the Alma Mater Society after 27 years of service in April. The funding for the dedication was raised by alumni of the AMS. 

The meeting is set to take place at 1:00 at Richardson Hall. The agenda can be found here.

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