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Construction is slated to be completed for early 2022. Photo: Rame Abdulkader/The Fulcrum

Construction on project expected to get underway by September

The University of Ottawa is planning to start renovations on the five buildings on the Lees campus by this September, modernizing space for the faculty of health sciences and building a pedestrian link to the nearby OC Transpo Confederation Line.

The facelift promises “cutting-edge facilities, including state-of-the-art wet labs, modernized teaching and research spaces, collaborative workstations for both students and staff, and open-concept common areas —all designed to strengthen the U of O’s health sciences community and enhance its capacity for research,” according to a Gazette article

A learning resource centre, athletics and recreation facilities, and cafeterias are included in the renovations as well, which are slated to be completed for early 2022 when the Schools of Nursing, Nutrition Sciences and Rehabilitation Sciences will relocate to the campus. 

One of the major issues the retrofits hope to address is the challenges students in the faculty of health sciences can face in having to travel from the university’s downtown campus to the Alta Vista campus for classes.

The U of O provides shuttle service for transportation between the two campuses but students can face difficulties in scheduling, especially if they miss the shuttle. Meanwhile, getting to the Alta Vista campus from Sandy Hill using the OC Transpo system can be a 30-minute commute or more, typically requiring a transfer. 

“The changes will help the faculty (of health sciences) overcome acute issues in program scheduling that require students to travel from campus to campus to attend classes,” according to the Gazette article. 

The university says the retrofits will help make the buildings on the Lees campus greener as well, with plans to introduce smart-building technology to cut back on energy consumption. Overall, the retrofits will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent, according to the Gazette article.

New ventilation systems and bird-friendly glass on all windows and doors are included in the renovation plans as well. The School of Nutrition Sciences will be able to use raised garden beds, “integrating agriculture into the urban landscape and reclaiming industrial land for productive, sustainable uses,” according to the Gazette article.

“This project is an important part of the U of O’s ongoing commitment to improving our teaching and research facilities,” said the university’s vice-president of research Sylvain Charbonneau in the Gazette article. “As with recent projects, such as the construction of the STEM Building, we are planning ahead to minimize disruptions to researchers and their work as we carry out these changes.”