Ready, set, build?

By Mary Chan

After waiting in the starting block for over five years, MacEwan Hall expansion is ready and set. All it needs is the signal to go.

The Students’ Union is close to signing a contract with a contractor to begin construction on the long-anticipated multi-use facility, the first phase in a possible three-phase development plan. The contract could be signed as early as Friday, and work on the site could begin by next week, pending funding approval by the University of Calgary Board of Governors Executive.

The Executive BoG will meet Thursday night to approve a $2.3 million contribution to the $8.6 million expansion project.

"[Once it has been approved], an agreement has to be signed between the SU and the university," explained SU Vice-president Operations and Finance Amanda Affonso. "From there the university will sign the contract, since they went through the tendering process."

The university’s contribution will cover basement development, as well as the construction of a link between Science B and the new facility. The SU approved a $5 million contribution last year, which will cover the rest of the building, including a new ballroom.

The new facility will be named MacEwan Hall, and what is currently known as MacEwan Hall and MacEwan Student Centre will collectively be called MacEwan Student Centre.

According to SU President Paul Galbraith, the change was necessary to reduce confusion for visitors who only come on campus to watch shows at the Mac Hall Ballroom. Because of this change, rooms may have to be renumbered.

"MacEwan Hall will primarily be used as a venue for entertainment," said Affonso. "During the day it will be open to students for lounge space, for clubs to have meetings. It’s going to be an open hall that can be partitioned."

The SU portion of expansion expenses will be paid from sources such as SU operating surpluses, leasing revenue, and the $7 levy full-time students currently pay as a part of their SU fees (Part-time students pay $3.50.).

"The levy helps us make fairly significant payments," said Galbraith. "But it doesn’t make payments for us. We have reserves, previous surpluses. We have a very financially viable SU."

As for terminating the levy, Affonso says not to expect that too soon.

"I can’t predict when the levy will end," she said. "But I do know that once the building’s up and running, it will start to generate revenue from new kiosks, new tenants, catering that will contribute to MacEwan Hall expansion."

Once the contract is signed, it will still be a number of weeks before ground is actually broken, since the construction company needs to mobilize, or remove trees and sidewalks and fence the site.

Construction on the facility is due to finish by Sept. 1, 1999. In the meantime, the SU is currently working on redevelopment plans and possible development plans, the third phase of development, which includes the addition of a fourth floor to MSC.

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