A new delay on construction of Victoria College’s much-anticipated Goldring Student Centre has forced the college administration to issue refunds to graduating students who will not be able to use the facilities for which they were charged.
The delay, which Victoria College president Paul Gooch attributed to “unforeseen circumstances,” means that the Centre intended to be finished in 2013 will instead be pushed back another year. The building’s designers, Toronto architectural firm Moriyama & Teshima, were unavailable for comment.
A 2009 referendum to determine student financing for the Centre ultimately supported levying a $100 fee on full-time students every year from 2010 through 2012, increasing to $200 in 2013. Part-time students paid $50, increasing to $100, over the same time frame.
Only fourth-year students will be refunded in full, while first- to third-year students will be refunded half the amount, as well as being given a chance to move down to the pre-access rate. “Students paid the full fee this year in anticipation, but since that expectation has not been realized, there will be a refund according to the schedule of the agreement,” said Gooch.
The refund comes as the result of an agreement between the Victoria University Student Administrative Council (vusac) and the college, which held that “a student should not be required to pay the fee if he or she would not be able to enjoy the Goldring Student Centre before graduation.”
“When it became apparent in December that the [Centre] was not going to open on time, I brought up this issue with Kelley Castle, the dean of students, and she agreed that this needed to happen,” said Shoaib Ali, vusac president. “vusac and Victoria College students are definitely glad to be getting this money back, though it’s unfortunate that the cost comes at the price of not seeing the centre after the construction that has gone on for so many years.”
Ali says he and other alumni who are eligible for refunds will likely return to campus to see the completed centre, after having invested so much in the building over a number of years.
Named for Victoria College graduates Blake C. Goldring and Judy G. Goldring, the centre will be attached to Wymilwood, a historic campus building. When the levy was originally approved in 2009, The Varsity reported that administrators anticipated finishing construction of the building in 2011.
In spite of the delay, the centre’s final construction is eagerly awaited by students at Victoria College. Amenities include meeting rooms, new office space for vusac and nearly 20 other student groups, a café and two-storey lounge, an assembly space, and lockers. The centre is expected to triple available student space at the college and unlike the current Wymilwood building, the Goldring Centre will be wheelchair-accessible.
The modern design of the extension fits in with the diverse architecture at Victoria. Borrowing design elements from Wymilwood, the centre will stand alongside the neo-gothic Burwash Hall, Romanesque Old Vic, and the more contemporary Isabel Bader Theatre.
The delay could potentially pose fresh problems for the Faculty of Law, which is preparing to move from its current site at 84 Queen’s Park Crescent to Victoria College, and was depending on completion of the Goldring Student Centre to accommodate law school students who need study space and clubs offices.
“The new building will be a state-of-the-art student centre,” says Gooch. “We are all eager to see it completed.”