The expansion of the Faculty of Law’s facilities, which began in June 2013 and is scheduled to continue through the summer of 2015, has rendered core areas of the faculty virtually inaccessible for students, who have been relocated to Victoria College.
On Thursday, January 30, the Faculty’s website updated the university on the status of their expansion project, addressing rumours of delays that had been a point of concern for students and staff.
Mayo Moran, dean of the Faculty of Law, said that although there has been some delay, it has not been caused by opposition from City Council residents. “We have had very positive feedback from the residents and a very good working relationship,” she stated.
At a Business Board meeting on Monday, Scott Mabury, vice-president, university operations, explained that the university is awaiting the city’s approval of an open trade agreement. Local community groups had requested that the open space in Philosopher’s Walk be exchanged for open space elsewhere. The university has agreed to this but needs approval from City Council.
At this time, it is unknown when construction will resume. Mabury remarked that the project has already been stalled for a couple months. “[The agreement] will be in front of City Council on February 16, and hopefully that will be resolved. We believe we have the councillors’ support,” he said.
The same source of delay was cited by Moran. She said the university’s central administration and the project team are confident that more intensive construction will begin shortly.
In earlier statements, the administration has pointed to conditions of the construction site as a source of potential challenges. In September, Lucianna Ciccocioppo, Director of External Relations in the Advancement Office, wrote that trees, traffic, and heritage buildings make the expansion an especially challenging project.
Moran assured The Varsity that contingency plans were established at the beginning of the project to account for delays, which are to be expected in any construction project.
Meanwhile, the faculty is working with Victoria College to ensure that students’ needs are met in the transition period. The Faculty of Law provides regular updates on the progress of construction, as well as lists of study spaces and food options available to law students.
According to Ray deSouza, bursar at Victoria College, the temporary presence of the law students has not been a major disruption thus far. “The opportunity to engage in an enhanced relationship with the Faculty of Law is something that Vic welcomes,” he stated. He added that academic programs have not been affected by the transition.
The Faculty of Law expansion project involves renovations to Flavelle House and the Bora Laskin Law Library. It will also add a new building, the Jackman Law Building, which will increase the faculty’s space by half its current size.