The Concordia Greenhouse Project is reaching out to students by asking for the approval of a fee levy in hopes of securing a budget in the wake of potential closure.
The Greenhouse is asking that students approve a 12 cents per credit fee levy in a referendum this month to provide funding for a wealth of services and locally grown veggies on the 13th floor of the Hall building and several community gardens.
While the Greenhouse has been around for 50 years after the merge of Sir George Williams University and Loyola, the sciences eventually moved to Loyola Campus and abandoned the initiative. When plans were made to tear it down eight years ago students, faculty and Sustainable Concordia moved in and brought it back to life under an expansive rejuvenation project.
“In a really quick amount of time we started writing grants, we created more positions, we opened up all the rooms,” said Marcus Lobb, a co-ordinator of the City Farm School. “There are all kinds of different community projects that are taking up the different rooms and we do a huge ceiling production each year. There’s a lot to it, it’s really vast.”
The Concordia Greenhouse is now looking for permanent funding. In the last academic year its expenses totaled $90,846. If the fee levy is accepted it would raise approximately $75,000 during the 2013-2014 academic year. The rest of their funding would be found through grants for sustainability programs, private donations and fundraising initiatives.
Fee levies often provide programs and infrastructure to students; many students consider them to be an effective means to provide valuable opportunities, though not every student has a chance to benefit directly from the endeavor.
Those who may not want to pay for services in which they don’t personally have a stake in have options. Every year there is an opt out period providing ample opportunity to those students who may disagree.
“I feel that [the Greenhouse] is kept a little secretive and a lot of people . . . would be thinking ‘why am I paying two dollars towards this when I didn’t even know it existed,’” said Dillon Crosilla, a geography student at Concordia. “So I can see some hesitation from people there.”
During the last two years students across the anthropology, sociology, engineering, geology and economics departments have engaged in the Greenhouse’s offerings. The Concordia Greenhouse also supplies food to Cafe X, Frigo Vert and on-campus markets for healthy and inexpensive produce.
In order to oversee operations and ensure an ethical use of the students’ investment, the Greenhouse will be forming a Board of Directors that will comply with the Concordia Student Union’s standing regulations. An annual general meeting is also held every fall where students have the binding authority to approve or reject the proposed budget.
The vote will be held across March 27, 28 and 29, between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.. A 50 per cent plus one majority of votes is needed to decide on the initiative. If passed, full-time students can expect a $3.24 yearly fee added to their tuition fees.
Similarly, Sustainable Concordia will also be holding a fee levy referendum in hopes of expanding student contribution to 15 cents per credit starting in fall 2013.