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CSU housing co-operative may fail

by Matthew Lapierre January 30, 2018
CSU housing co-operative may fail

Council also announces delays for new website and long-awaited daycare centre

The construction of a student housing co-operative may fail due to unforeseen costs, announced the Concordia Student Union (CSU) in its annual mid-mandate report presented at a regular council meeting on Jan. 24. The CSU also reported that its long-awaited daycare centre and website are behind schedule.

Housing co-op permit woes

Construction of the student housing building on Papineau Avenue, across the street from Lafontaine Park, was supposed to begin this year. However, the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough has not approved the project because it wants the co-operative to have a brick facade, said CSU general coordinator Omar Riaz at the meeting. Adding the facade would increase the cost of the building by about $200,000, which could jeopardize the entire project.

“Initially, when we made the proposal for a permit from the city, they said that if we didn’t have a facade of brick, that would be okay,” Riaz said. “Now that we’re in the final stages to approve the permit, they’re saying that it’s not okay.”

“Right now, we don’t have room for the $200,000,” he added.

According to Michel Tanguay, the communications director for the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, the borough is asking the CSU to simplify their building concept.

“The borough approved the project in 2017. But the architecture has to be revised before the permit is delivered,” he told The Concordian.

In the April 2015 CSU referendum, students voted in favour of allocating $1.85 million from the Student Space Accessible Education Legal Contingency Fund to finance the creation of the housing project. That money finances approximately 13 per cent of the total cost of the $14-million initiative. Funding for the co-operative also comes from government bodies, like the city of Montreal and the Chantier de l’économie sociale.

Daycare centre and website delays

The CSU’s daycare project, which was set to open its doors on Concordia’s downtown campus in March, has been delayed because of new legislation issued by the Quebec government that requires all daycare projects approved after June 2017 to be re-submitted for approval.

“The good news in all of this is that the construction [of the daycare] is still on time,” Riaz told The Concordian. “All we’re waiting for is the permit.”

The student union has not set a new date for when the daycare will open.

Riaz was also questioned by council members about the launch of the CSU’s new website, which was initially supposed to launch in August 2017. In its mid-mandate report, the CSU announced the website would likely launch by mid-February. Councillors questioned Riaz and asked him to present a full report on the project, including costs and the reasons for the lengthy delay.

“The website is not a small project,” Riaz told The Concordian. “We’re trying to get something that’s functional and has information from all parts of the CSU.”

Tax clinic funding

The CSU voted in favour of funding the John Molson Accounting Society’s (JMAS) annual tax clinic. The clinic, which offers free tax preparation services to Concordia students and eligible Montrealers (people who make $25,000 or less annually), is in its third year. According to the clinic’s organizers, it costs between $30 and $50 to file taxes with a professional firm, so they hope more Concordia students take advantage of the free service.

Last year, the clinic was offered the weekend of March 25, just over a month before tax returns were due. JMAS has yet to announce a date for the 2018 clinic.

Photo by Alex Hutchins

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