Board of Trustees approves over $100 million in capital projects, conditionally

Wellness Centre and biomedical research facility to rely on secured funding

Queen's approved both capital projects, contingent on the funding being secured before construction starts.
Credit: 
Journal file photo

On July 14, the Queen’s Board of Trustees approved two major capital projects totaling over $100 million, provided that the funding can be secured before their respective construction begins.

The first project — the only to prompt questions from Board members in open session — was the proposed Innovation and Wellness Centre, located in what is now the Physical Education Centre (PEC). 

The interior of the current building is set to be demolished, providing approximately 183,000 gross assignable square feet of space of multi-disciplinary use. 

The centre will accommodate portions of the faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, exam accommodation spaces, athletics and recreation, and a new wellness centre — intended to completely replace the existing clinic on Stuart Street, located in the LaSalle building. 

Following the meeting, Provost Alan Harrison explained to The Journal that the present layout of Student Wellness Services (SWS) may be contributing to harmful stigmas around student health. 

Entering the building, for some students, may feel like an elimination of personal privacy, Harrison said. If buildings only serve one purpose, walking in is a clear indicator that a student is seeking help.

More and more, other universities have been turning to a multi-disciplinary model to house their wellness centers for this purpose, Harrison explained.

“There’s a wonderful anonymity,” he said. 

Harrison noted that there weren’t any immediate plans to include a sexual violence resource centre in the new PEC project, the possibility of which have been widely discussed by student leaders over the last two years, notably during last year’s AMS executive campaigns

However, he clarified that the current plans didn’t rule out the possibility. The projected completion date for the wellness centre is tentatively set for April 2018, lending plenty of time to sort out its contents in more detail. 

Established elements of the PEC renovation will include the Water Research Centre, inclusive of a Level II Biohazard laboratory suite, and the “clustering of innovation initiatives,” as Harrison worded it, such as the Queen’s Innovation Connector. 

During the meeting, a handful of questions were raised about the $87.5 million project, including $1.85 million in planning funds previously approved by the Board.

Many of the questions pertained to the steep costs of the project, for which $18.4 million was still outstanding at the time of the Board report. Between the report and the meeting, the amount of funds already secured for the project jumped from $29 million to $34 million via philanthropic donation. 

The University hopes to secure the remaining funds through avenues such as philanthropy and government funding. 

The project is intended to increase ongoing costs, such as utilities and security, which Provost Harrison noted could be offset in part by the energy conservation contract the University is engaged in with Honeywell. 

Trustee David Allgood raised questions about the financial contingency of the project, for which Harrison clarified that the budget includes a 10 percent contingency padding on costs to ensure risks are managed. 

Harrison called the project “conservative” in the due allowances it has factored in. “There will be change orders, and the purposes of change orders is to make sure we net out the zero,” he said. 

The Board voted in favour of the motion, with no opposition, and moved onto the second of the major capital projects — revitalizing and creating a new Queen’s biomedical research facility for $31.865 million. 

The new biomedical research facility would facilitate and support research towards cancer cell growth, brain function and heart-lung interactions, to develop 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. 

During the meeting, there were no questions or discussions around the motion, which carried with no opposition. 

In the final portion of the open session, two philanthropic namings for Richardson Stadium were also approved without debate or discussion.

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