Students to decide whether CSU purchases a student center

The decision to purchase 2045 Bishop St. will appear as a referendum question in the upcoming CSU General Election

The CSU unanimously voted to let students decide whether the union should purchase a building on Bishops street for a new student centre in the upcoming election.

The purpose of this new building is to create a student centre that would include office space for the CSU, as well as a space for other student clubs and fee-levy groups to operate out of. The CSU would also be able to use the space to host their own events.

The price per square foot for the building is $419.31, rendering the 13 thousand square foot building a $5.5 million cost to purchase. The CSU is also exploring the option of adding an additional floor. Since it is not a heritage building, the CSU will have the ability to renovate and make modifications to the building as needed.

The CSU has been exploring the possibility of creating their own student center for some time. Initially, they approached Concordia about renting a space, however, these spaces were deemed to be unaffordable. However, according to CSU President Eduardo Malorni, Concordia will offer financial support in other ways, although those were not specified at the special council meeting held on Feb. 17.

The downtown property is located directly across the street from the Hall Building at 2045 Bishops St. “In terms of location it doesn’t get more ideal than this,” said Malorni.

The prime location is one of the many reasons that Malorni believes now is the right time for the CSU to buy the building.

​”Other reasons why now is a good time is we do have a good surplus in the fund, where we could expense this and not be left completely depleted or be left in a situation where we might not be able to maintain the building for long term.”

Purchase of the building would also give the CSU more independence and control of the events and activities they want to create for students.

“This is a step in the future of the CSU being more independent from the university. Even though Concordia is acquiring buildings, that doesn’t necessarily mean that those buildings are going to be used for student life,” said CSU Councilor Lauren Perozek.

“This building would be under our purview and our control. We could use it for more student life related activities and our contribution to the students.”

Primarily the project will be funded by the Student Space, Accessible Education & Legal Contingency Fund (SSAELC fund) fund. The SSAELC fund was created 20 years ago and in that time has been used for other purposes. Its initial purpose was to be used for the purchase of a property and creation of a student centre. The fund has now accumulated enough capital that this initial goal is possible. The CSU will also pursue other grants to fund the building’s purpose.

The union will have to undergo a hefty due diligence process involving many inspections of the building. Some parts of it will require renovations, but others are usable at this moment. The result of the referendum question as well as the results of the many building inspections will determine if the CSU goes through with the purchase of the building.

“There are spaces that are not in great condition, but it’s in usable condition. So we could definitely use it for a lot of purposes already. Starting from day one that we own it,” said Malorni.

According to Malorni the CSU actually does not need to send this expense to referendum at all, but he believes students should be involved in the decision.

“I personally think that if we’re going to spend such a large amount such as $5.5 million, our decision should be backed up with the students’ consent on this, which is why I want to send it to the referendum.”

Photos provided by Catherine Reynolds


Concordia’s first pop-up building now open

If you walk along de Maisonneuve Blvd. W. near Concordia’s downtown campus, you will notice a cube-like building with a large inconspicuous LS plastered at the front entrance.

At door number 1535, Concordia’s first pop-up building opened its doors to students on Jan. 6.

The Learning Square is a temporary, two-storey, modular building that has eight classrooms that can accommodate about 80 students per class. The cost of building the structure was estimated at $6.5 million, and Concordia expects to use the building for five years.

The inside of the building is elegant; it is a reflection of what the Webster library looks like, post recent construction. Colourful walls adorn the interior, turquoise, yellow and lime green, juxtaposed against the white.

The temporary structure was built to make up for the loss of classroom space due to renovations in the Hall building. According to Concordia spokesperson Vannina Maestracci, with this new building, the university will be able to complete the renovations faster and on a larger scale, with fewer disruptions to students and faculty.

“Space wise, in the classroom, it’s big, and the teachers are able to actually get their messages across, sound wise,” said sociology student Erin Bleau.

Maestracci said the expected gain of time for the renovations of the Hall building is about 18 months.

“I think that it’s really great that they’ve given us this space, because from what I understand, what’s going on in the Hall building involves even things like asbestos, and so on, so I’d much rather be over here,” said Professor Maggie McDonnell, lecturer and program coordinator of composition and professional writing.

According to Maestracci, Concordia looked at different options for creating more space for classrooms, but found that modular units are more beneficial and cost less than renting space. The building could also be moved and reused in another location.

“Given that it’s temporary, it’s actually pretty good,” said McDonnell. “You don’t feel like you’re in a trailer.”

Gender neutral washrooms

The Learning Square is the first Concordia building to have only gender neutral washrooms. The stalls also offer more privacy, as the doors start from the floor and reach up to the ceiling.

“It kind of adds an aspect of (privacy),” said communications student Steph Medalsy. “It could make a person who is maybe not okay with the idea a bit more comfortable, and maybe it will change some people’s opinions that it doesn’t really make a difference who’s using the washroom, considering the stalls are so secluded.”


Photos by Britanny Clarke


Grey Nuns to receive $851,000 for restoration

Downtown residence granted funding under Parks Canada initiative to support National Historic Sites

Concordia’s Grey Nuns Motherhouse was granted $851,000 for preventative and restorative maintenance earlier this month as part of the Parks Canada National Cost-Sharing Program for Heritage Places.

Concordia spokesperson Mary-Jo Barr said the funding will be invested in measures to reduce deterioration to the 146-year-old building. Barr said planned restoration efforts include replacing the building’s masonry and thoroughly cleaning all the surfaces in the Grey Nuns Chapel.

On Oct. 12, Marc Miller, the member of Parliament for Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Sœurs, made the funding announcement on behalf of Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, who oversees the cost-sharing program. The funding was granted after an application process in which the university outlined the need for and costs associated with restorative work. According to Parks Canada records, Grey Nuns is one of 143 National Historic Sites that are receiving funding from the cost-sharing program.

“Our government has taken a leadership role in the protection and promotion of Canada’s invaluable and irreplaceable heritage such as the Motherhouse of the Grey Nuns in Montreal,” Miller said in a public statement. “This new funding will ensure the preservation of one of Montreal’s treasured heritage sites for future generations and help foster a healthy local economy and thriving tourism industry.”

Completed in 1871, the building was originally the Motherhouse for the Sisters of Charity of Montreal, commonly known as the Grey Nuns. For decades, the Grey Nuns used the building to serve the poor and take care of community members, including in times of hardship, such as the Great Depression and the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic. According to Concordia’s website, the building was officially designated a historical monument under Quebec’s Cultural Property Act in 1976.

In 2007, Concordia University purchased the building. It was renovated and refurbished before being officially opened as a campus building in September 2014. Currently, the building offers a reading room, cafeteria and daycare centre, and serves as the only residence building on the Sir George Williams campus.

According to Barr, the restoration budget and projects will be managed by the university’s facilities management department. While the current project will focus on restoring the building’s chapel, the university is planning on restoring the facade and interior of the building’s other wings in future years.

“As stewards of this historic building, the university’s goal is to ensure that minimal restoration work is required over the next 100 years,” Barr said.

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