For yet another year, students returning to classes at Sir George Williams were greeted with dust, heavy machinery and overcrowded passages. And the perennial sight along de Maisonneuve Blvd. might last until 2013.
But by early December, students should have access to underground tunnels that will link Guy-Concordia metro and the Hall and the Library buildings.
Other than that, though, students won’t be reaping the benefits of construction this year.
Plans for the north side of de Maisonneuve, between Guy and Mackay, should be completed by the summer of 2010. The space is expected include a four-metre passage for pedestrians, trees, and park benches.
There have been some obstacles over the years, such as two years ago, when pavement on the corner of Mackay and de Maisonneuve was ripped up almost immediately after workers had put the finishing touches on it.
Policy director at Montreal Heritage Dinu Bumbaru said delays created by incidents like that are not the university’s fault. “Concordia may be the owners of ideas, but they do not own the streets,” he said. “That belongs to the city of Montreal.”
The John Molson School of Business building and the Norman Bethune square are beginning to shape the new Quartier Concordia, which encompasses the area between Sherbrooke, René-Lévesque, Guy and Bishop Streets.
Though the work may seem to progressing quite slowly, the project is still on schedule, said Martine Lehoux, Concordia’s Facilities Planning and Development director. But some Concordians are impatient.
“I saw the new Concordia buildings go up in a flash,” said Lina D’Iorio, an assistant principal at Concordia’s Liberal Arts College. “Why is it taking so long to fix the streets? Why can’t they put more people to work on it?”
Sarah Ladik, a 20 year-old Concordia student was similarly frustrated. “It’s like a war zone. If I wanted chaos I would have joined the military.”
Bumbaru defended the lengthy process. “There is no simple solution for complex problems,” he said. “It’s not like working on the plumbing of the house.”
Lehoux said other factors that added time included the new bicycle path along De Maisonneuve, which was the decision of the City of Montreal. “It’s their decision because its their property. There were other scenarios, but that’s the one they chose.”
Concordia students, faculty and staff, along with local business owners will not find relief anytime soon. Once the work along de Maisonneuve is complete, the sidewalks will be redone along Guy, Mackay and Bishop, pushing completion well into 2013. Concordia has invested over $375 million dollars in the Quartier Concordia.