UofT governing council set to approve millions of dollars in capital construction projects

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Spadina-Sussex residence rendering
Rendering of the Spadina-Sussex residence

Ontario Construction News staff writer

The University of Toronto’s Governing Council planning and budget committee (PBC) has voted to recommend six capital projects, including the 23-storey Spadina-Sussex residence and the installation of geothermal systems at King’s College Circle and Robert Street Field, The Varsity reports.

The PBC, which voted its recommendations on Sept. 17, is responsible for providing the first stage of recommendations for these projects, which have been budgeted at more than $5 million each.

Three of the projects will be voted on for final confirmation by the council’s executive committee on Oct. 15, while the other three need the overall governing council’s approval, on Oct. 24.

“The distribution of project costs and funding sources of all six projects were discussed in camera,” The Varsity reported.

Spadina-Sussex residence

The planned 19,328 sq. m. Spadina-Sussex residence site will include 511 beds in both dorm rooms and apartment suites, as well as a dining hall and amenity spaces. The residence will be designed for a mix of first-year and upper-year undergraduate students. Fifteen per cent of the space will be allocated space allocated for barrier free access, along with 10 stacked townhouses for faculty members and their families.

“West Campus has been identified as being underserved with respect to Food Services, especially given some of the demand for food availability in the vicinity of Robarts Library,” so the residence food service will be open to everyone, the report says.

Six residential units at 698 and 700 Spadina Ave., will be demolished to make space for the residence.

This project has been in the works for some time, as the university and real estate developer The Daniels Corporation began the project’s schematic design back in November, 2013. Construction could commence as soon as August, 2020, with completion by April 2022.

The exact project cost was not disclosed, but the budget review process is such that it would be greater than $20 million.

Removal of surface-level parking

Surface parking spaces will be removed at King’s College Circle, Hart House Circle, and Tower Road, to be replaced by a 9,075 gross sq. m. one-storey garage underneath Front Campus. The surface-level parking spaces will be replaced with landscaping, including around 200 trees, 7,000 square metres of shrubbery, and 35,000 square metres of natural lawn, The Varsity reported.

The initiative has received more than $5.9 million in donations from over 2,400 donors, including a $250,000 donation from the University of Toronto Students’ Union in 2018. The overall Landmark Project will cover 86,340 sq. m.

Geothermal system installation

The PBC also has recommended installing two geothermal systems; one underneath King’s College Circle, and the other underneath the proposed soccer field at the Robert Street Field, near the planned Spadina-Sussex residence. These projects have an overall estimated cost of $19.8 million.

According to the report, the planned geothermal system at King’s College Circle will be “Canada’s largest geothermal system in an urban setting.”

“There is nothing that will stop a geothermal system from being feasible,” but that coordination is required between “the geothermal designers and Parking Garage designers,” the report said.

The university retained engineering firm Morrison Hershfield Limited to study the feasibility and projected costs of the King’s College Circle project, and among other estimates, it indicated the project’s capital costs could reach $14.3 million, offset by annual energy cost savings of $834,929.

Meanwhile another geothermal system would also be installed under the new Robert Street soccer field, which could provide energy to the Spadina-Sussex residence.

Engineering consultants Arup Canada estimates that installing 220 boreholes could cost around $5.5 million, saving $189,196 year-to-year.

Other items

The university plans to restructure its subleased 5,172 sq. m. space on the fourth floor of 700 University Avenue.

The area will be reconfigured to accommodate the Department of Statistical Sciences and the Master of Science in Applied Computing program. This move would free up 1,364 sq. m. of space that the two units currently occupy in Sidney Smith Hall, the Bahen Centre, and the Stewart Building.

Separately, Koffler Scientific Reserve (KSR) at Jokers Hill building would also be restructured to provide a “centralized location for meeting, dining, teaching, and housing.”

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