Queen’s receives $31.7-million investment towards Innovation & Wellness Centre

Government of Canada donation will support two capital projects on campus

An artist's rendering of the planned Wellness Centre, to be completed by 2018.
Supplied by Queen's Communications

As the first member of Queen’s administration stepped up to the podium on Tuesday, a hush fell over the crowd of attendees that had been invited to hear the latest funding announcement from Queen’s. 

In attendance at the announcement, which took place in the atrium of Beamish-Munro Hall, were Principal Daniel Woolf, MP Mark Gerretsen and MPP Sophie Kiwala. 

In the wake of several substantial monetary announcements since Sept. 1 (see here and here), the high-profile individuals announced that Queen’s received a $31.7-million investment from the Canadian government, to support two major capital projects — a new Innovation and Wellness Centre and revitalized research facilities.  

Interior construction began on the proposed Wellness Centre began on the site of the existing Physical Education Centre (PEC) at the beginning of September, and is expected to be completed by spring of 2018. 

The decision was made to move forward with the Wellness Centre — which was part of a set of mental health recommendations made in 2012 — as well as the revitalization of Queen’s research facilities during a July 14 meeting of the Queen’s Board of Trustees.

However, with a total cost of approximately $119 million, the two projects relied on securing the proper funding and capital to move forward. 

The first of the two projects, the Wellness Centre, will include portions of the faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, exam accommodation spaces, Athletics and Recreation and a replacement of the existing wellness clinic in the LaSalle building. 

The wellness services included will be focused on delivering aid across the spectrum of wellness services including health, counselling, sexual assault and mental health-related services. 

Aside from the funding and artist renderings of the building, no further details were given during the announcement of how space will be allocated to each service within the building. 

According to the press kit provided by Queen’s during the announcement, the co-location of innovation and wellness services “will blend academic, recreational and other student life activities, and will emphasize to our students the important relationships that connect mental health, physical well-being and academic success.”

“Today’s investment is about more than physical buildings. It’s about providing students with access to new experiences,” Kimberly Woodhouse, dean of the Engineering faculty, said in her address to the crowd.

Speaking to The Journal, Principal Daniel Woolf outlined the finer points of what he hopes the Innovation and Wellness Centre will accomplish. 

“We’ve known for some time that the facilities down on Stuart St. were built in a former time for a smaller university, not really adequate, and in a time when we didn’t know nearly as much about mental health issues on campus.” Woolf said. “The way the new one is designed, you simply will not be able to tell whether students are going in to see a doctor, counsellor, or just go into a class or for a cup of coffee, so it will de-stigmatize people coming from there.” 

As for the research revitalization, biomedical research facilities dispersed across-campus will be improved for use by Queen’s research groups for neurological, cardiovascular and cancer-related breakthroughs.

Construction has begun on the former PEC location and can be seen along Union Street across from Gordon Hall.

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