University update on capital projects

VP Finance presented to Senate on Jan. 30 regarding the JDUC, the Innovation and Wellness Centre and more

Journal file photo

At Tuesday’s Senate meeting, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration) Donna Janiec presented an update on the current and planned capital projects undertaken by the University. According to her, this is the “first time in a number of years” Senate has received any such update.

Projects already in progress include the development of the Innovation and Wellness Centre, valued at just under $100 million, the revitalization of the Biomedical Research Facility in Botterell Hall for $31.9 million and leasehold improvements to the Smith School of Business offices in Toronto for $4 million.

Janiec also said the University has placed the Kingston Prison for Women up for sale after owning the property for 10 years. The property remained unused during this time.

Planned projects include the redevelopment of the JDUC for about $60 million and the development of the newly purchased St. Mary’s of the Lake Hospital.

Janiec noted the JDUC project would mainly be funded through a student referendum. If passed, the fee would be collected from students over the course of 20 years, with the University covering any interest accumulated on the fee during that time. 

Though the project has yet to be approved through referendum or by the Board of Trustees, Senator Awet Weldemichael expressed concern about potentially “saddling incoming students with fees they didn’t vote on.”

In response, AMS President Jenn Li explained this model is standard for funding student life centres across the country. She said the AMS has “discussed [the project] at length with the student body” and has heard “a strong sentiment that we benefit from students that came before us investing in facilities, so we see a responsibility to pay it forward as well.” Specifically, Li noted this system was used with the Queen’s Centre project in 2005.

As for St. Mary’s of the Lake, Janiec said the University bought the property at the beginning of November as a “strategic purchase,” given its location between West and Main campus.

The University has also hired an architect to draft conceptual sketches of a new Physics building, which Janiec said would be developed on a site next to Dupuis Hall. The project is in a very preliminary phase, but they hope these conceptual drawings will attract donors, should they decide to proceed.

Finally, the University is looking into utilizing the unserviced land it owns adjacent to Innovation Park. Janiec said they’re now in discussions with the City to determine how they can work to develop the land to benefit the community.

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