Photo Credit: Samantha Hamilton, Photo Editor
Campus construction shows the University’s commitment to long-term planning
Jennifer Zhong, News Editor
U of T students may be tired of the never-ending construction on campus, but university administrators say it’s just long-term planning. “We want to make the campus more accessible and welcoming to future students,” says U of T President Meric Gertler.
He wasn’t kidding about accessibility. There are few places on campus that are not blocked off or under construction right now. From the giant hole in front campus to construction along Bloor and College St., detours are common. “I was worried about getting lost around campus after missing the orientation tours,” says first-year student Jared Low, “but it turns out everyone is equally lost with all the construction going on.”
Construction projects at U of T have a history of being long and delayed. The newly opened (and still unfinished) Student Commons was first proposed in the 1960s and approved by students in 2007. In fact, students have been paying a levy to the U of T Student Union (UTSU) to pay for the building and its operations since 2008. Alumni will be glad to know that after 14 years, the long-awaited Student Commons has finally been opened to students (although not fully open until September 2022). Current and future students might be interested to know that the levy will not be going away; Student Commons nearly bankrupted UTSU and we will be paying the effects of that for years to come.
Long-term planning is definitely a priority at U of T!
Students can rest assured that the giant excavation project on front campus is for a good cause. Called the “Landmark Project”, it is supposed to make the campus more eco-friendly by digging up a grassy field and replacing it with a massive underground geoexchange field with paving on top. “Replacing the asphalt with granite not only makes it look better in photos but is also more expensive,” assures Scott Mabury, U of T’s Vice President, operations and real estate partnerships. With U of T being one of the most recognizable places in Toronto, aesthetic looks are a must.
“Our plan is to get as much done as possible during the pandemic,” says Mabury, “so we’ll probably get the messiest digging done a year or two post-pandemic. Fingers crossed!” Going by the timeline of Student Commons, front campus will probably be completed in another five years or so.
As for this year’s graduating students — who wants a nice photo on front campus? “Have you considered staying and getting a doctorate degree?” asks Gertler. “U of T is the best school in Canada and I’m sure the construction there will be mostly done in another 5-7 years. Just think long-term.”