PEC now open for use

The future of the Physical Education Centre (PEC) is under discussion after the three gyms at the Centre were reopened last week.

In December 2012, Bartlett, Bews and Ross gyms were reopened for exams. Further expansions and development for a health and wellness centre in the PEC have become platform points for some AMS executive candidates.

Last year, current AMS executives Johnson-Dineen-Lee (team JDL) lobbied for the reopening of the PEC.

Tristan Lee, vice president of operations, said this was one of their more contentious platform points.

“We found that it was definitely going to happen in the summer and we were just overjoyed that we were able to accomplish that piece [of our platform],” Lee, ArtSci ’12 said.

According to him, team JDL saw overwhelming student support for the project. This led to them working with Student Affairs who had also been interested in seeing the building reopen.

A proposal was then submitted to Provost and Vice Principal (Academic), Alan Harrison, after which Athletics and Recreation joined the effort.

“We thought that there’s obviously this huge desire for more intramurals space and [the reopening] seemed like a really logical solution,” Lee said.

The PEC, located on Union St. between University Ave. and Division St., was closed in 2009 after the opening of the Queen’s Centre — now home to Queen’s Athletics and Recreation.

The entire renovation cost was $1.4 million. Assessments and cost estimates began in Spring 2012 and work started in the following October.

So far, the gyms are open for exams and intramurals. They’ve been used for exams in previous years, but were later closed.

Prior to its opening, the building needed to be brought up to accessibility regulations. To “open,” or make the PEC accessible for all, could have cost up to $2 million.

The limestone-clad building was constructed in 1930-31 and cost just under $6 million.

Lee said it was concluded after the assessments that opening the entire building for Health, Counselling and Disability Services (HCDS) wasn’t financially viable due to costs of opening and renovations.

“There’s a lot of the building that’s still closed off,” Lee said.

Ann Tierney, associate vice-provost and dean of student affairs, said there are still a few cosmetic tweaks needed but the space is ready for exams and intramurals.

Just over 300 students can write exams in each of the three gyms at one time.

“It’s much easier to have large venues,” she said, adding that larger classes won’t be divided between exam rooms now.

Jeff Downie, associate director for business development and facilities for Athletics and Recreation, said since its opening the PEC has allowed the intramural waiting list for students to drop from 1,000 to zero.

He estimated that there are more than 6,000 students playing intramurals at Queen’s.

“When we hear from a student who comes to Queen’s and says, ‘Well I really wanted to play basketball but I didn’t get my team in on time,’ that’s probably the most disheartening for us,” he said.

The goal was to expand gym space to allow more opportunities for students, Downie said.

“We’ve got waiting lists in so many different areas, that if we can … expand it and add more teams then maybe we could start to look at new sports in the ARC or the PEC.”

BGP

The possibility of using the PEC as a location for the impending Health and Wellness Centre is on Team BGP’s radar.

Team Berkok-Green-Pritchard (BGP) have met with both Principal, Daniel Woolf and Associate Vice Principal and Dean of Student Affairs, Ann Tierney to discuss its feasibility.

According to TK Pritchard, vice-president of university affairs candidate, the Health and Wellness Centre would be a viable location for an amalgamation of campus health services.

Moving health services to the PEC would mean more room for counselling and clinics, and a potential physiotherapy space.

Pritchard said the University estimates that the Health and Wellness Centre project will take between five and 10 years to establish.

While no development would happen next year if BGP were to be elected, they plan to work with the administration to make the project a priority for coming years.

The Centre would be developed in the parts of the PEC that are currently not in use.

“We have no interest in taking away from the athletics space,” Pritchard, ArtSci ’12, said. “This is the first time in a long time where there are no students on the [waiting] list for intramurals … and we have no interest in removing that.”

— Rosie Hales

PDA

Craig Draeger, vice-president of operations candidate for team PDA, said they are concerned with increasing the functionality of what the campus already has.

“I think we envision the PEC as part of a broader Student Life Centre that demonstrates the most functionality for students,” Draeger, ArtSci ’13, said.

PDA said that as the PEC isn’t under the Operations and Management Agreement or the Shared Space Policy, the team has chosen to concentrate on the revitalization of the JDUC.

Renovations to the JDUC will be paid for out of the AMS’ capital contribution to the Queen’s Centre. Of the $10.6 million that the AMS contributed, $1.2 million was slated to go towards a JDUC rejuvenation project, said a 2012 Journal article.

“[For] us it’s about improving what we have, it’s about functionality of the JDUC for which maintenance was deferred for a decade in the run-up to the Queen’s Centre,” Draeger said.

He added that there are many problems with the JDUC, including sustainability issues.

“If I recall correctly, more power is used in the JDUC than [in the Queen’s Centre] even though it’s a much bigger complex because of how poorly insulated and how draughty the windows are,” Draeger said, adding that the recent retiling project was a good start but more improvement is needed, including lighting.

“We’re not interested in ‘glory projects’ — projects that we need to put a name onto,” Draeger said. “We’re interested in improving the nuts and bolts that make everything else possible.”

— Rosie Hales

TNL

Due to students contributing fees for the Queen’s Centre, TNL doesn’t want students to pay for the reopening of the PEC.

Instead, the team plans to use alumni donations as a way of financing their plans.

TNL plans to engage student opinion on the use of alumni donations by using Facebook and other forms of social media.

A ‘Student’s Corner’ will also be added to the AMS executive newsletter to pose questions to students to identify their priorities when it comes to donations.

TNL hopes to establish a Health and Wellness team enforce campus health ideas, Liam Faught, vice-president of university affairs candidate, said.

“We want somewhere central on campus where students can go for health and wellness concerns … if that’s a priority that the University wants to bring forward then I think we’d be more than willing and very equipped to do that and partner up with them,” Faught, ArtSci ’14.

Presidential candidate Troy Sherman said he thinks a revitalized PEC will bring a new life to campus and normalize mental health issues to reduce stigma.

“By bringing it to campus I think it’s going to add to the discussion, it’s going to be a safe place where students can do and find resources and support,” Sherman, ArtSci ’14, said.

— Rosie Hales

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