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The Ring - The University of Victoria's Community Newspaper

February 20, 2003 · Vol 29 · No 4

Committee picks parking lot site for new building

 

UVic’s new engineering and computer science building is another step closer to having a home.

 

After nearly two hours of discussion at its Feb. 17 meeting, the university’s campus development committee (CDC) recommended that the six-storey facility be located on building site number five, covering the parking lot beside the Engineering Lab Wing and up to 23.6 metres (77 feet) of lawn, bushes, and trees to the west. The recommendation will be forwarded to UVic President Dr. David Turpin.

 

The committee considered two possible sites for the building. Each would require the removal of a similar number of trees. The recommended location was determined by the importance of its proximity to the Engineering Lab Wing — to allow for the better integration of programs and services for students — and its relative unsuitability for anything but engineering-related structures. The project planning committee, which is responsible for identifying the space and program requirements for the building, indicated a preference for site five when it reported to the committee at the CDC’s Jan. 29 meeting.

 

The CDC recommendation followed a review of an environmental site assessment by an external consultant which concluded that the habitat to be removed at site five “is not unique or of high significance and can be mitigated by re-establishment in nearby areas.” Replacement of the parking lot asphalt with permeable surfaces and the retention of roof run-off from the new building would significantly improve storm water management at the site.

 

Since the new building would affect a limited number of trees on the eastern edge of the wooded area beside the Cunningham Building, the CDC also recommended that the building architect be directed to make every effort to minimize the impact of the development on what has recently come to be called Cunningham Woods. Currently, about 40 trees would need to be removed from the edge of the 1.7-hectare woods to accommodate the new building and an emergency vehicle access road. Efforts will be made to reduce the number of trees removed.

 

The committee also unanimously recommended that the university make a significant investment in the restoration of natural areas on campus to compensate for any intrusion into the woods and ensure no net loss of trees and habitat.

 

The committee chose site five over an alternative (site four) that would have placed the building on the lawn between the Petch and Elliott Buildings and Ring Rd. This alternative site would have required the expenditure of an additional $600,000 for foundation work to overcome the soil conditions, to extend electrical power and data lines to the site, and to incorporate services that would otherwise be shared with the Engineering Lab Wing at site five. These services include a loading dock, data lines and emergency back-up power. CDC chair Jack Falk told the committee that resources could be found to fund the additional costs and that it didn’t need to be a factor in the committee’s deliberations.

 

Site four would remain available for a future science building and other projects.

 

The CDC is 25-member body composed of faculty, deans, students, staff and vice presidents that advises the president on campus planning matters, and building design and site selection. It issued a progress report on its work on a new campus plan on Jan. 29. The report included a proposal for a 10-year moratorium on development in wooded areas outside Ring Road and a similar freeze on building site six, located in the middle of Cunningham Woods. Approximately 32 per cent of the campus is now under moratorium or other forms of protection.

 

The $22-million engineering and computer science building will be ready for occupancy in fall 2005. It will contain classrooms for use by all students on campus, undergraduate and graduate labs, offices, student study spaces, and space for the engineering and computer science co-op programs. The provincial government is funding the building as part of its “Double the Opportunity” initiative. With the new building, UVic will accommodate nearly 300 full-time undergraduate and graduate students in engineering and computer science. At six storeys, it will be the tallest building on campus.

 

A dozen protesters, toting foliage, logs and stumps, gathered in front of the Business and Economics Building on Feb. 17 to urge the committee to select the lawn location for the building.


 

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