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New building busy
By Mike Murphy & Aaron Wherry
Western rang in the new year with a little campus cosmetic surgery.
Over the holiday break, both renovations to Campus Recreation's facilities and a new lecture hall adjacent to the Natural Sciences building were completed.
According to Dave Riddell, the director of physical plant, the new lecture hall cost approximately $3.2 million, with a seating capacity of nearly 700. The theatre has a full sound system, a superb audio/visual system and a separate ventilation system. "We're pretty proud of it," he said.
Pat Kitchen, programmer for Campus Rec, explained new flooring was provided for all three Campus Rec gyms and the walls of the weight room have been painted. Other smaller improvements to the workout facilities were also made, she said. In all, renovations were budgeted to cost approximately $140,000.
The gym floors, she said, were of particular concern as they were approximately 25-years-old. "As they aged, they were becoming more challenging to clean," she said. "They were becoming a safety hazard as they were getting sticky."
Two of the newly floored gyms will be used for athlete activities during the 2001 Canadian Summer Games, to be held in London, she added, but their specific use during the two-week-long event is not yet known.
Riddell explained there are many repairs and building initiatives leading up to the expected doubling of enrollment in 2003. These include the pursuit of a resolution to the increased parking demand on campus, he said. "We're still working on a solution for parking," Riddell said. "We hope to have a plan by the end of summer."
In addition to new building plans, the university has over a $100 million in deferred maintenance which is awaiting the necessary funding.
Michael Owen, associate dean academic in the faculty of science, said the new lecture theatre will make it easier for professors to teach much larger classes in first and second-year courses. "What it's going to mean is that some of the larger classes can be taught in one section instead of two sections."
Owen said he was very pleased with the finished product and a new building serves to boost morale in the faculty and across the university. "It's an extremely nice looking building," he said. "We've got a bright, new, shiny, very effective teaching facility."
University Students' Council VP-education, Jeff Sutton, said many students do not recognize the little repairs which are needed around campus and added the new renovations come as a result of both government funding and student fees.
"It's nice for students to see where their money for ancillary fees are going," Sutton said.
Sutton explained funding for new infrastructure is lacking, but added he hopes progress will continue across campus leading up to the double cohort. "Hopefully this time next year we'll be looking at new buildings."