Oct. 12, 1995
Hits: The Students’ Union 1995 fall by-election takes place, and students vote in favour of MacEwan Student Centre expansion. By expanding and renovating, the SU hopes to provide more lounge space and give cjsw, nutv and the SU used bookstore a permanent home. Two new food court outlets and Max’s Cafe will receive new space with improved facilities, and the Ballroom’s capacity will triple.
Misses: Only 53 per cent of voters approved expansion (592 in favour out of 1110 total votes), with a voter turnout of a meager 5 per cent. SU President Kate Kimberly quips: "I’m glad students felt positively about the expansion." The levy is placed at $7 per full-time student per semester, which will be collected starting January 1996.
"Construction could begin as early as Spring 1996, with a completion date of Fall 1996," says Kimberly.
Oct. 26, 1995
Hits: Expansion project is in a stage of advanced planning and undergoes full feasibility study involving architects and SU representatives.
Jan. 18, 1996
Hits: The budget for expansion continues to grow. University Vice-president Finance and Services Keith Winter assumes a greater role in the project, which will have positive effect.
Misses: Expansion is delayed for the first time. According to SU VP Finance John Casuga, delays were caused by two basic reasons: poor voter turnout (i.e., the low approval rating caused the SU to proceed more cautiously) and increased participation by the university representatives. New tentative ground-breaking date: Spring 1997.
June 20, 1996
Misses: Expansion delayed yet again. Repairs and renovation placed on hold to prepare for expansion, so Mac Hall’s condition continues to deteriorate.
July 25, 1996
Hits: Ellis-Don, a local contractor, is hired by the SU for $60,000 to work with architect Arup Datta on the details of expansion. Their role is to make sure details aren’t overlooked, especially in cost analysis. SU President Sarath Samarasekera states the $7 fee paid by students will not increase and that outside funding sources will be sought.
Misses: Expansion still on the drawing board and delayed yet again. Cost estimate rises from $4 million to $5 million.
Sept. 5, 1996
Hits: SU VP Finance Akin Jeje promises no fee hikes in the levy.
Misses: The contractor in charge of expansion is robbed, his office ransacked, and the plans lost. Backups won’t be available until mid-September, effectively delaying the project once more.
"We’re behind schedule as it is because we’ve been so careful about making informed decisions and waiting until we have the facts before going ahead with anything," says SU VP Finance Akin Jeje. The SU still hopes to start the project in early 1997 and be finished by January 1998. Increased cost estimates raise the possibility that expansion will be scrapped altogether or downgraded to minor renovations.
Oct. 24, 1996
Misses: Still no concrete plans for Mac Hall expansion. The SU is not sure which areas will receive the most attention.
"The project ballooned because we incorporated the needs of everyone with the expansion. All the clubs, cjsw, the Ballroom, et cetera, have very little space, and the food court is too crowded. Now we have to make the hard choice of deciding what needs priority," says SU VP Finance Akin Jeje.
Expansion size decreased from 89,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet to meet budget limitations. The contractor is paid an additional $15,000, and no efforts have been made to obtain outside funding.
Dec. 5, 1996
Hits: The final decision regarding expansion will be made early in the new year. To date, $275,000 has been raised through the levy.
Misses: Arup Datta, the designing company, sets the cost at double the original value, from $4 million to $8 million.
Jan. 9, 1997
Hits: SU VP Finance Akin Jeje says that an optometrist and dental office may be included in the new space created by expansion. In addition, "We have been assured by our business manager that we can finance it without students having to put another penny into it," says Jeje. He adds that corporate sponsorship is one option the SU is considering. Jeje says that a large soft drink company will help finance the venture in exchange for some form of exclusive selling privileges on campus.
Misses: Construction dates not yet confirmed. New cost estimate reaches $8.5 million.
Jan. 16, 1997
Hits: The Students’ Legislative Council approves the disbursement of $126,000 to Arup Datta Architect Ltd. and Ellis-Don Construction to complete the expansion plans for Mac Hall and to send it to a second reading.
Feb. 20, 1997
Hits: The SU and university jointly propose a link between Mac Hall and the library, housing a coffee shop, the university MicroStore, and a 24-hour study hall. SU VP Finance Akin Jeje says there will be no additional cost to students.
Misses: Expansion cost reaches $9.9 million. No actual construction has begun.
"Ground will be broken in July. If everything goes well, completion will be August 1998," says Jeje.
July 10, 1997
Hits: On July 8, the SLC unanimously approves a redevelopment plan that will examine and make recommendations about the use of space in the current building and explore what additions can be made to improve student space. SU President Patrick Cleary says, "The redevelopment plan will force the SU to address the original needs of students when it was first decided that new space was required. The plan actually looks inside the building for solutions, rather than going outside and building an exorbitant palace."
Misses: Expansion is effectively postponed for several more months. The SLC-approved "redevelopment master plan" for expansion will cost the SU $60,000. These funds will be matched by the university to bring the budget for redevelopment to $120,000.
Sept. 25, 1997
Hits: The SU hosts a Town Hall Meeting on Sept. 23 to share the most recent developments. The redevelopment plan is now "phase-oriented," wherein each year the current SU will focus on one aspect of the project depending on students’ preferences until the facility is complete. This will ensure that the new plan meets students’ needs and that there will be minimal inconvenience due to the step-by-step structure of the plan. A referendum will be held in February to ask if students still support the project.
Misses: The redevelopment plan is set at $10 million and abandons the idea of expansion in favour of Mac Hall space reorganization. There are still no construction crews, gaping holes in the walls, nor any other visible signs of progress.
"It’s a process, it takes time," said Cleary.
Feb. 5, 1998
Hits: The pre-design stage of the ballroom phase, which includes surveying the site between Mac Hall, the Science complex, and the Nickle Arts Museum, is completed by the architectural firm Gibbs-Gage Partnership. They are in the second of six stages; the schematic design stage. Construction could begin as early as late June 1998 and be finished by January 1999. Final approval of the multi-use facility site will come from the U of C Board of Governors, who will debate the location at their Feb. 6 meeting. The site has not received any objections to this point and is expected to be approved.
"In the foreseeable future, U of C Food Services is considering changing the food area from Favours on down to Taco Time. The SU also plans to redevelop the rest of the food court to better suit traffic flow," says SU VP Finance Gavin Price.
July 30, 1998
Misses: Expansion is delayed again as the SU turns over.
"The hole is being dug in September and there is no turning back now," said SU President Paul Galbraith. SU VP Finance Amanda Affonso said, "Hopefully by the time students come back in January, the construction will be done."
Sept. 3, 1998
Hits: Cautious financial bookkeeping will shave off $300,000-$400,000 from the project. Expansion goes to tender (i.e., the SU is seeking bids from construction companies).
Misses: Ground-breaking pushed back to October.
Nov. 5, 1998
Hits: The SU is close to signing a contract with a contractor to begin construction on the long-anticipated Multi-Use Facility. The university will contribute $2.3 million, the SU $5 million.
Misses: Completion date pushed back to Sept. 1, 1999.
Dec. 14, 1998
Misses: Tendering of project falls through. Project is delayed and completion date is set at January 2000. See ya’ next millennium.