On October 24, Governing Council approved the plan for a new residence to be built at the intersection of Spadina Avenue and Sussex Avenue. The 23-storey residence will include a total of 511 student beds for upper- and lower-year undergraduates across all faculties.
U of T acknowledged the growing need for housing and estimated that an additional 2,300 residence beds will be needed by 2020 at UTSG alone. Rise in enrollment of international and out-of-province students has been a contributing factor in this demand for housing.
University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) President Joshua Bowman supports the university’s investment to create more residence beds and approves of the centrality of the location. Bowman wrote in an email to The Varsity that “living in residence can be a formative experience.” He further commented, “the friends I made in my first year on residence helped me to navigate a lot of the challenges that… a university like ours can create.”
The residence will be composed of 60 per cent dorm rooms with semi-private washrooms shared between neighbours, and 40 per cent four-bedroom suites. Of the dorm rooms, 23 rooms and adjoining washrooms will be accessible, as well as 84 suite-style bedrooms and washrooms. The residence will also include live-in student dons, townhouses for faculty members, religious spaces, a fitness room, and a residence dining hall that will be open to students and faculty with a TCard.
According to research done by the UTSU, the number of accessible rooms at the Spadina-Sussex residence will be far greater than the average number of accessible rooms currently available at other UTSG residences.
The university began planning the new residence in 2014, but progress slowed in February 2017 when the Toronto City Council designated the Ten Editions bookstore, which is located at the proposed construction site, as a heritage site.
During the ensuing negotiations with the city, the building plan was adjusted to include a reduction in height and an agreement that the Ten Editions bookstore would remain standing by integrating it into the residence. However, despite the negotiations, the bookstore closed earlier this year.
Additionally, U of T has agreed to renovate the Robert Street Playing Field adjacent to the residence and make it accessible to the public.
With the new building design, an application for site plan approval was filed in December 2018 and is still pending.
U of T has released the following schedule: the approval of the site plan is expected by February 2020, the earliest demolition date is May 2020, the earliest construction date is August 2020, and the earliest completion date is April 2022.
While Bowman supports the Spadina-Sussex residence, he has also acknowledged that U of T has a dearth in affordable housing. “For many students, living in residence is simply not an option,” Bowman noted.
Information on the rental price is not yet available, yet, the plan notes that a meal plan will probably be mandatory for residents.
The development of the Spadina-Sussex residence will cost over $20 million. U of T is also in the process of designing an extension for Graduate House and a smaller housing project in the Huron-Sussex neighbourhood.