UTM Residence and Housing has announced a 15-year initiative, Focus Fifteen, to renovate and build new student housing on campus.
Chad Nuttall, the director of student housing and residence, told The Medium in an interview that there are plans for small townhouses over this summer, following a two-year ongoing project. However, the plan for big townhouse renovation projects will not resume before summer 2018.
Nuttall explained that because the campus expanded rapidly with the addition of the apartment complexes, OPH, Roy Ivor Hall, and Erindale Hall, the townhouses now require re-investment.
“Most schools don’t have a lot of townhouses, and they wouldn’t have gone through that rapid expansion that we’ve gone through,” he said.
“So now we need to turn our attention to those townhouses and make sure they are in great shape. They haven’t had a lot of re-investment while we’ve been building these buildings.”
He added that the renovations will be completed one at a time, rather than shutting down all the townhouses at once.
Beginning May of every year, the project will resume after students leave the campus to allow for minimal disruption and to avoid having to displace any students.
“We’ve been doing piece mail renovations [small projects one at a time] for years, one bathroom here, a kitchen here, and not only is that expensive, because those are small jobs and you don’t get economy to scale, but it will take forever to get through our whole system like that,” he said.
“We need bigger, more impactful projects that take advantage of economies of scale. So that results in phases having to be offline, and they’ll have to be offline for a while to do the renovation and get them back up to speed and reopen them.”
The location for a new building is intended to be near the other apartment complexes.
“Our preference is that a new building will also be a new OPH, so that we will have a community of multilevel buildings together. We’ll have a townhouse neighborhood and then a building neighborhood,” he said.
An estimated budget for the project was not permitted to be released at the time of publication.
Considering how competitive UTM stands among its neighbourhood, downtown colleges, and universities, the student housing and residence life have proposed a five percent residence fee increase in their budget for the 2017/2018 academic year. According to Nuttall, this change has taken place for the past couple of years, as well.
Nuttall also cited the Master Plan for the campus, a document designed to outline appropriate areas of future expansion while ensuring UTM’s green space is unaffected.
“[The Master Plan] identifies appropriate sites for expansion and appropriate sites for protection, and we took our guidance from that plan,” he said.
“We identified sites in the campus Master Plan that would be appropriate for residence buildings,” he added.
“The core of that campus Master Plan is keeping buildings to the inner circle of the ring road, but it literally identifies sites for future build.”
A document detailing the plans of the construction is expected to be released on the residence webpage in the upcoming weeks.