U of C student Nolan Trach said MacHall needs to be updated.
Michael Grondin/the Gauntlet

5,000 students consulted on MacHall Master Plan

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“It does seem pricey, but it depends on what we get out of it,” said Nolan Trach, a third-year business student at the University of Calgary, about the MacHall Master Plan.

The proposed MacHall Master Plan, which was unveiled in October 2012, will overhaul MacEwan Student Centre at an estimated cost of $150 million. Over 5,000 students have been consulted in the past five months — 1,000 consultations were in the past few weeks — to gauge students’ opinions of the proposed plan.

The Students’ Union has been increasing consultation efforts through surveys and by asking people in food lineups in MSC. A final town hall meeting was held on Feb. 5 with one of the designers of the draft plan Martin Jones in attendance to answer questions about the direction of the plan. Fewer than 10 students showed up to the event.

SU president Hardave Birk is proud of the SU’s commitment to speak with students.

“It’s clear that students care about what’s going on in the building, and that is really important to us,” said Birk. “Also, having higher numbers of students being consulted allows us to make better decisions with what we will be doing with MacHall in the future.”

The proposed plan will increase space and flow in MSC, with over 10,500 square metres added to the building as well as a new underground loading facility.

Though the plan and its price are not set in stone at this time, students have expressed uncertainty about how the plan will be funded and whether construction will close off the building to 

Third-year U of C electrical engineering student Roberto 
Cabedoni said the planning for the proposal does not address the true concerns of students. He also said that by the time the construction is complete, he may not be around for the final result.

“I think it’s an effective use of money, but it’s not an effective use of planning,” said Cabedoni. “If they are going to close MacHall for such a long time, and we are not going to have a space for hanging out or getting food, then I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

However, upgrades are needed to MSC’s operational and mechanical systems, according to a performance review of the building conducted in 2010.

“I can see why we need some upkeep in the building. It seems out of date and it definitely needs some changes,” said Trach.

U of C facilities management and development vice-president Bob Ellard is behind the planning. He said that it is important to understand students’ needs and wants before any construction 

“It’s a long process to get to where we need to be,” said 
Ellard. “This plan is like a roadmap in giving us some guidance as we develop the building.”

Construction on the building may not commence for several years. The SU will continue their efforts to speak with as many students as possible before any dirt is moved.

Fifth-year political science and history student Rachel Martin said the plan is unnecessary.

“Personally, as a student, I don’t see too much wrong with MacHall as it is right now,” said Martin. “I feel [the plan] is a waste of money. I see renovations happening all over the place on campus and I feel there are a lot of other things they could be doing.”