The Davis building is a central aspect of the UTM campus. ELHAM NUMAN/THE VARSITY

The UTM Campus Council announced plans for new and ongoing capital construction projects for the 2019–2020 academic year on October 2.

Of the $274.5 million net operating budget of 2019–2020, $44.6 million will be allocated toward capital construction projects.

The Arts, Culture & Technology (ACT) Building; Robotics Lab Environment; a new residence building; and the Annex are in early planning stages, while construction for the Science Building is expected to begin later this fall.

“[The] Annex will be a new modular building located beside our current Academic Annex… and will house Campus Police and Hospitality Services,” Chief Administrative Officer Saher Fazilat wrote in an email to The Varsity.

According to Fazilat, $41.5 million out of $44.6 million will go toward the proposed ACT Building, and the remaining $3.1 million to “a project in [the] Davis [Building].”

The proposed ACT Building will house several departments, like the Institute for Communication, Culture, Information and Technology, Computer Science, Robotics, and units like the Blackwood Gallery and the Indigenous Centre.

According to Fazilat, the proposed construction projects are a response to enrollment growth.

UTM plans for a five per cent undergraduate enrollment growth by the 2022–2023 academic year, according to the Planning and Budget Office’s 2018 Enrolment Report.

14,544 full-time undergraduate students are enrolled in full-time studies at UTM this year, a 630 student increase from the office’s projected enrollment goals for UTM.

New intake of full-time undergraduate students “won’t increase over fall 2019 levels,” wrote Fazilat.

Yet, this increase has prompted a need for more student spaces, like a new residence building.

“There are very few available residence spaces for upper-year students and fewer still for graduate students,” wrote Fazilat.

Fazilat also wrote that the proposed construction projects aim “to enhance our research agenda.”

Jessica Burgner-Kahrs, Director of Continuum Robotics Laboratory, has been working with UTM to plan the proposed Robotics Lab Environment since she was hired in June.

“Having a building that had our needs in mind from the beginning will be transformational, so [that] our robotics program can really be the best and the biggest in Canada,” said Burgner-Kahrs in an interview with The Varsity. “And that will be great for UTM and U of T in general.”

The Science Building, “one of the largest capital projects at U of T,”  will house the Centre for Medicinal Chemistry, wet research laboratories, the Research Computing Data Centre, offices for science departments, and space for facilities support.

Upward of $20 million in funding for the Science Building was approved by the Governing Council in 2017.

The building will be located between the Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex and the Davis Building, and is expected to be completed by 2023.

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