More trials and tribulations for CJSW’s relocation

By Chris Beauchamp

Despite the current cramped and poorly ventilated CJSW office space being one of the driving issues during the 1995 Students’ Union referendum decision to expand MacEwan Student Center, it appears CJSW will have to continue waiting for their new space.

The major issue slowing the project revolves around the inability of the SU to sign an operating agreement with the station longer than ten years. CJSW has asked for a 25 year agreement. Although both parties say they would like a guarantee that the station will remain on campus in the foreseeable future, the ten-year term of the current operating agreement between the SU and the University of Calgary prevents the SU from making obligations that might outlast their own mandate.

"If we had the ability to sign a 25 year lease, then I don’t think there would be a problem," said SU Vice-President of Operations and Finance Greg Clayton. "But we can’t do it."

Both Clayton and SU General Manager Jeff Marshall expressed concern that CJSW would be able to move off campus at the end of ten years if the university chooses not to renew the SU’s agreement.

"What you don’t want to see happen is have [student] funding go into an operation and have that operation go away," said Marshall.

CJSW Station Manager Chad Saunders understands the legal issues preventing a long-term contract, but can’t understand why the process has taken as long as it has. He expressed dismay at the suggestion CJSW might abandon campus.

"Even though they can only sign a ten year lease, we need a commitment we’ll be here a long time," said Saunders. "Every year it’s delayed, the costs go up probably by five to ten per cent."

"If everybody agrees we want CJSW to stay around, that we want CJSW to stay on campus, why can’t we put that on paper and move on?" he asked.

Following a unanimous Students’ Legislative Council vote in 2002 in favor of moving the station to the third floor of MSC, and a completed and approved final draft of plans for the new space, the SU and CJSW entered into protracted discussions about the nature of the new space. The talks originally hinged on about 35 points of contention between the two groups but have since been reduced to just a few–but primarily the length of the operating agreement.

Marshall alluded to a "grandfather agreement," potentially tying CJSW to the SU under the condition that the SU renews their agreement with the university following the current ten year term.

"Can we work around it?" asked Marshall. "I believe we can."

He also explained there are significant issues surrounding the need to install heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems in the new space. Because the university owns MSC, the cost of basic building infrastructure will ultimately fall on them.

The SU recently halted work on the MSC expansion in order to work out a "master plan" for the entire building. Marshall said the master plan would be in the hands of the current SU executive cabinet before the end of their term.

"The master plan will involve significant investment from the university," said Marshall. "My preference would be not to start a whole bunch of projects until we have that in place."

Marshall said the renovations on the new CJSW space would take priority "outside the master plan."

Despite all the delays, Saunders is cautiously optimistic.

"We’re not here to compete and say we locked you in for 25 years," he said. "There’s a win-win for everybody."

Leave a comment