Rejection of residence in Sandy Hill prompts drastic action
Illustration by Tina Wallace
With the recent rejection of plans to build a nine-storey residence building in Sandy Hill, and rising complaints from students about the amount of construction on campus, the University of Ottawa has made a bold choice: they are going to build two new campuses in Ottawa.
“We have decided to follow the example of the University of Toronto,” explained the planning committee’s spokesperson, Jane Moore. “That institution realized long ago that you can’t expand a university in the downtown core of a major city, and made the smart decision to split their campus into multiple locations.”
The U of O has already separated some faculties from the main campus, with the faculty of medicine primarily functioning out of the hospital campus, but these new campuses will serve a wider range of students.
The new campuses will be located in Kanata, right beside the Canadian Tire Centre, and in Westboro. The completion of this massive project is planned to align with the construction of the Light Rail Transit (LRT). This would allow for quick transportation to and from campuses, except the Kanata campus, which will always be too far away for those in the city to attend.
The proposed plan is to keep the faculties of social sciences, arts, education, and the Telfer School of Management at the current campus — to be referred to as the downtown campus — and move the faculties of engineering, science, and health sciences to the Kanata campus, and the faculty of law and graduate studies to the Westboro campus.
The dispersal of the faculties throughout Ottawa will relieve the pressure on the downtown campus, allowing for the demolition of the Leblanc residence to make way for green space, the reconstruction of the Jock Turcot University Centre (UCU), and renovations of older buildings to create more study and recreation spaces.
“The university has been trying for years to make more space on campus,” Moore said. “But when there is only so much space you can work with, it really limits what you can do.”
Al Stone, president of the U of O, said that after years of rejected and failed plans, the only option left is to expand the school away from downtown to other campuses.
“We finally saw things as clearly as the residents of Sandy Hill,” said Stone. “Of course it makes more sense to demand our students travel across the city for classes, rather than expand to Sandy Hill. Those residents who campaigned against our residence proposal were there first. So even though they represent a small portion of the area’s population, I believe the golden rule has to apply: finders keepers, losers move to Kanata.”
Student residences will be built at both new campuses. The Kanata campus will have two large residence complexes: one apartment style, one dorm style, with a cafeteria and a gym connecting the two. Additionally, a state-of-the-art science and technology facility will be built to accommodate laboratories, and provide more space for group work. Because the faculty of science is moving to Kanata, the newly built Advanced Research Complex at the downtown campus will be converted into a study lounge and another student bar.
The Westboro campus will be geared for older students, and will only have one residence complex, made up of one-and two-bedroom apartments. Another new building will include a library, study space, lecture halls, and offices.
The downtown campus will remain the same, but with fewer people on campus, the school will be able to take on projects that have, until now, been impossible.
“The current size of the student population requires so much more space than we are able to give,” said Stone. “We are proud to take this reasonable next step in the development of the U of O.”
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