The Kevin Johnston effect

Examining the anti-Muslim candidate’s disturbing second-place finish in the Mississauga mayoral race

The Kevin Johnston effect

Following the October 22 municipal elections held across Ontario, there was considerable coverage of and reaction to the concerning third-place finish of white nationalist Faith Goldy in the Toronto mayoral race. But this was not the only case of an overperforming far-right candidacy.

In Mississauga, although Bonnie Crombie was comfortably re-elected as mayor, anti-Muslim YouTube personality Kevin Johnston came second with a staggering 13.5 per cent of the vote. To put this into context, he also ran in 2014 and received half a per cent of the vote. In just a matter of four years, his fringe candidacy has became legitimate.

This is a man who, in 2017, was charged by the Peel Police with “wilfully promoting hatred toward the Peel Muslim community.” This October, the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) hosted a candidates forum discussion and understandably chose not to invite Johnston. While some criticized the UTMSU for his exclusion, the truth is that our union is under no obligation to invite an individual who has publicly perpetuated hatred against a minority group.

Yet Johnston’s views seem to have found popularity in Mississauga. This is startling in a city known for its multiculturalism — especially a large Muslim population. Lest his following grows, Mississauga residents must critically dissect and dismiss Johnston’s views.

An anti-Muslim record

In one of his videos, Johnston bribed students to videotape Muslim students during Friday prayers in Peel schools — claiming that they were spreading hate against “Jews, against women, against infidel, and against Canadians.” His claims were expectedly unfounded and delusional. Consequently, Johnson was escorted off the property and banned from all future Peel board meetings.

While Johnston takes issue with Muslim prayers in schools, up until early November his website said that he wants the Lord’s Prayer implemented in Mississauga City Hall. Hypocritically, religious accommodations are acceptable to Johnston so long as it is his own religion. Although he feels that his religious beliefs are threatened, he fails to recognize that Christianity is, in fact, already privileged. After all, in Ontario, we have Catholic schools that are funded by the government.

Johnston went further, claiming that Canada was “founded on Judeo-Christian values” which he plans bring back to Mississauga. Yet he ignores that these values were forced upon the Indigenous communities of this land. To celebrate this history reflects a problematic and gross erasure of colonial history, along with the racism against Indigenous communities that continues today.

In reality, Johnston’s values also have nothing to do with religious piety. Rather, they are a cover for fear-mongering and incitement of hatred against Muslims, whom he labels a major threat to Canada. It is difficult to imagine how Johnston could ever represent Mississauga’s Muslim residents or residents committed to religious freedom as mayor.

Johnston has even attacked MP Iqra Khalid for introducing M-103 following the Québec City mosque shooting. This is a non-binding motion that condemned Islamophobia and called for a study into systemic racism and religious discrimination. He called her a “political terrorist” and implied that he would be happy to see her shot.

These comments are deeply disturbing — for a mayoral candidate,  attacking an MP with such violent imagery is unacceptable. Ironically, his statements reveal the importance of M-103, since Johnston embodies the Islamophobia in this country that needs to be acknowledged and addressed.

And it’s not just Muslims whom he targets. As a candidate, he pledged to make Mississauga safe from crime. While there have been some sensationalized shootings this past year in the GTA, Johnston’s claim that crime has “risen greatly” in recent years is inaccurate. The reality is that his tough-on-crime stance is designed to monger fear against racialized communities in the city.

The responsibility of voters

As a Mississauga resident, UTM student, and Muslim individual, it is alarming for me that a person like Johnston could still secure second place in the mayoral race after all that. If it’s not that his supporters voted for him because they share his anti-Muslim views, it is that these views were not enough to dissuade them. Part of the problem is that voters are willing to give political candidates the benefit of the doubt, instead of holding them to higher standards.

His claims may seem attractive because scapegoating a particular group makes it easy to present corresponding solutions. But these claims don’t reflect the truth — they rely on the fear of voters.

The people of Mississauga need to realize that they cannot fall into the same trap as Donald Trump’s vision of America, in a political climate that likely encourages candidates like Johnston. Blaming marginalized groups does not resolve problems, but only spreads hate, division, and violence.

Johnston’s run in Mississauga, like Goldy’s campaign in Toronto, points to how politics based on manipulation can yield significant results, even in Canada’s most diverse regions. But voters have a responsibility to critically reflect and fact-check the claims advanced by those who wish to represent them. We must recognize that such individuals are utterly unfit to govern, and we must hold them accountable, as we would with all politicians.

To protect the cultural diversity that defines Canada, especially the Toronto region, it is imperative that we do everything in our power to prevent candidates and views that wish to destroy that definition from gaining further momentum.

Sharmeen Abedi is a fourth-year Criminology, Sociology, and English student at UTM. She is The Varsity’s UTM Affairs Columnist.

UTM hosts business case competition oriented toward beginners

UCS, SMA co-run sixth annual Ready, Set, Market!

UTM hosts business case competition oriented toward beginners

UTM’s Undergraduate Commerce Society (UCS) and Student Management Association (SMA) co-hosted their sixth annual Ready, Set, Market! conference on November 3 at the Communication Culture & Technology building. The conference provides UTM undergraduate students with workshops, networking opportunities, and a real-world marketing case to solve. Oriented toward beginners, the conference aims to enhance students’ professional development skills and business preparedness.

Kristena Disalvo, Marketing Director of the UCS, wrote in an email to The Varsity that “the main takeaway from the [students’] perspective was the experience they gained. Many of these students never competed in a case competition before… and they were thrilled with how much they learned.” 

UTM students were able to register for the event in groups of four. Case competitions require participants to develop solutions to a business-related case study within an allocated time. Selected finalists present their innovations to a panel of judges. 

This case this year was developed by real estate firm Oxford Properties Groups — also the event’s sponsor — with a marketing focus that integrated accounting, human resources, and other financial aspects. The event began with a talk from Claire McIntyre, Oxford Properties’ Vice-President of Marketing and Communications. The talk was followed by workshops that addressed key skills in business, such as how to network and use LinkedIn more effectively. 

Students had the opportunity to practice what they had learned in small groups with Oxford Properties representatives, before participating in an open networking session. The experience allowed students “to step out of their comfort zones,” said Disalvo.

The case competition took place in the afternoon, and its broad theme allowed groups to pursue any idea related to innovation, technology, and creativity. According to Disalvo, some notable presentations included the implementation of zen gardens, multipurpose desks that could be used for both group work and quiet work, and creating designated pet care places in the office. 

In its second consecutive year as sponsor, Oxford Properties increased its involvement by meeting with each team two weeks before the conference to offer presentation coaching and provide early feedback.

Overall, Disalvo hopes that the conference helped students to improve their “presentation, time management, teamwork, networking and leadership skills.”

Ready, Set, Market! has evolved considerably since its inaugural case competition in 2013; skill-building workshops were introduced in 2014. Looking forward, the organizers of the conference hope to see it grow even further, with Disalvo aiming to open the conference to non-UTM students.

Eye spy a fruit fly

Drosophila melanogaster can distinguish other flies

Eye spy a fruit fly

Most of us don’t think much of fruit flies other than as noisy nuisances with their sights set on spoiled food. 

However, according to Jonathan Schneider and Joel Levine, researchers in UTM’s Department of Biology, fruit flies, or Drosophila melanogaster, have a higher capacity for visual comprehension than previously believed.

Schneider, a postdoctoral fellow, and his supervisor, Levine, Chair of UTM’s Biology Department and a senior fellow at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) Child & Brain Development program, detailed their research in a paper published in the October issue of PLOS One. 

The research was funded by a CIFAR Catalyst grant and conducted in collaboration with Nihal Murali, a colleague from the Department of Machine Learning at the University of Guelph’s School of Engineering, and Graham Taylor, a Canada Research Chair in Machine Learning.

Though fruit flies have a limited scope of vision, they possess an incredibly layered and organized visual system, including hyperacute photoreceptors. 

Schneider and Levine wanted to determine whether fruit flies, despite their limited input image, could distinguish individual flies.

To do so, the researchers equipped a machine with 25,000 artificial neurons to mimic the eye of a fruit fly. They then recorded 20 individual flies — 10 male, 10 female — for 15 minutes for three days using a machine vision camera. From these recordings, they developed standardized images, which they resized to imitate the images the flies perceived. 

They showed the images to ResNet18 — a computer algorithm without the constraints of ‘fly eye’ technology — their ‘fly eye’ machine, and human participants. All three were tasked with re-identifying the fly whose images they had been shown.  

The results indicated that fruit flies can extract meaning from their visual surroundings and can even recognize individual fruit flies, something that even fly biologists have had trouble with. 

“So, when one [fruit fly] lands next to another,” explains Schneider to Science Daily, “it’s ‘Hi Bob, Hey Alice.’”

Fruit flies’ extent of visual comprehension has implications for their social behaviour, and this study could help researchers learn how they communicate. 

As well, these findings are significant because while most programs designed to mimic human capacity — such as virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant — come close to it, rarely do they go beyond it, like with the ‘fly eye.’

Machines like these can bridge the gap between engineers and neurobiologists. The former can use their findings to design their machines as biologically realistic as possible. 

The latter can use that biological accuracy to hypothesize how visual systems process information and, as Schneider and his colleagues put it, “uncover not just how [fruit flies], but all of us, see the world.”

Addressing financial illiteracy through art

UTM adjunct professor Radha Maharaj’s campaign seeks to improve student financial literacy

Addressing financial illiteracy through art

Financial illiteracy can be a recurring issue for many university students, so Dr. Radha Maharaj of UTM’s Communication, Culture, Information and Technology department wants to tackle the issue through a campaign called Elly. Maharaj’s financial literacy campaign involves a study, a survey, an artistic competition, and a series of interviews, all of which aim to improve financial literacy.

The study aims to assess the level of financial literacy among students and the extent to which students are affected by debt and other financial issues.

The survey, which runs from September to March, is an opportunity for all UTM students to take stock of where they are financially while also voicing any concerns and issues that they may have about personal finance.

The competition aspect, entitled “Elly in Action,” involves students submitting a creative presentation — be it song, dance, art, or a short film — that has a financial theme. The campaign encourages students to artistically explore topics such as being burdened with student debt or getting finances in order. The submission period for the competition ends on November 15.

Finally, the interview component is meant for students to ask questions, receive advice, and share their concerns regarding personal finance management.

Maharaj wrote in an email to The Varsity, “There is a taboo around talking about money. This is a generational problem. It’s simply a topic that we have not discussed about openly in the past and it continues today.” She added that students “are usually overwhelmed and apprehensive by the topic itself, because finance has a reputation of being complicated and boring.”

The use of music, dance, and art therefore aims to connect with finance in a way that students can more easily engage with. According to Maharaj, though art and finance are seemingly juxtaposed to each other, they “are in fact essential and complementary to our daily existence. Elly is the start of the movement to make this connection.” Maharaj is also in the process of designing “immersive personal finance courses” that will incorporate creative works.

Engaging with students through a seemingly non-traditional manner is key for Maharaj, who is also eager to improve the program and determine the best way to deliver the appropriate material to students who need assistance and are interested in learning more. “We do a good job of preparing students for the world of work and making money,” Maharaj said, “but we hardly spend the time teaching them how to manage that money in their personal life.”

UTM professor advocates transferring ownership rights of Indigenous song recordings back to Indigenous peoples

Inaccuracies in Ts’msyen song descriptions resulted from lack of Indigenous consultation, says Dr. Robin Gray at Indigenous Education Week event

UTM professor advocates transferring ownership rights of Indigenous song recordings back to Indigenous peoples
Dr. Robin Gray, Assistant Professor of Sociology at UTM, argued at an Indigenous Education Week event that the full rights to ownership of song recordings of the Ts’msyen Indigenous people — many of which are legally owned by Columbia University as part of its Laura Boulton Collection of Traditional and Liturgical Music — should be transferred to the Ts’msyen Indigenous people.

The talk was titled “Access & Control of Indigenous Cultural Heritage: When the ‘Object’ of Repatriation is Song,” held in the First Nations House (FNH) on October 23. The event was part of Indigenous Education Week, an endeavour by FNH to celebrate Indigenous contributions and Indigenous presence on campus.

During her talk, Gray explained how ethnomusicologist Laura Boulton recorded songs of the Ts’msyen people — an Indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest — in 1942, and then sold the recordings to Columbia University in 1962.

At the time she sold them, Boulton created metadata for each recording — descriptive information about each recording. But, as Gray found in 2012, Boulton’s metadata was inaccurate.

“Columbia University provided me with the metadata for the collection,” said Gray, “which created an expectation that the recordings would be in order and that the Ts’msyen collection would be complete. But after researching and listening to every file — about a thousand of them in the Laura Boulton Collection — I discovered that Columbia only had an audio file for half of the Ts’msyen content.”

Columbia University not only underestimated the number of Ts’msyen songs in existence, but was also unaware of mistakes in Boulton’s written descriptions of the individual Ts’msyen recordings, according to Gray.

Dr. Aaron Fox, the Director of Columbia’s Center for Ethnomusicology, clarified that Columbia did not make any claims that the collection included all traditional songs of the Ts’msyen overall, “only a complete version of Boulton’s very amateur recordings of them.”

Fox also said that he worked closely with Gray on the issue of finding the missing audio.

According to Gray, nine of the Ts’msyen songs were attributed by Boulton to a Ts’msyen man named William Pierce. Boulton described Pierce as, “Eagle by birth, but Blackfish by adoption,” and claimed he “sang clan songs for her.”

But Gray said that Boulton’s lack of precision about Pierce’s heritage made it impossible for Boulton to verify whether his songs were Eagle or Blackfish, or if they were even “clan songs” at all.

Gray also criticized the titles of Boulton’s recordings as being “overly simplistic,” providing examples of Boulton categorizing songs as “Indian Songs” and “Folk Songs.”

Speculating on the reasons for the imprecision, Gray said that Boulton may have forgotten details as she “created the metadata for the recordings 20 years after the time of capture,” and that Boulton’s results were “typical of overly simplistic labels for classification given by someone who did not really understand the content, or the significance of it.”

Gray said that the inaccuracies resulted from a lack of consultation with the Ts’msyen people.

“As is typical in the early years of capturing, preserving, and representing Indigenous cultural heritage, Ts’msyen were not informed or consulted in any of these transfers and transactions. In all instances, Ts’msyen and oral histories were given new meanings and values ex situ — divorced from the appropriate sociocultural contexts, without consultation from the community.”

“In the Ts’msyen worldview,” wrote Gray in a 2018 peer-reviewed publication, “ownership is more synonymous with responsibility than it is with possession.”

But in the “Western property view,” said Gray in her presentation, “Ts’msyen never owned the copyright to the knowledge product, the tangible recording. Laura Boulton, the researcher, claimed ownership of it, then sold it and bequeathed it, and now multiple institutions control the means of access to our songs.”

Such access to Ts’msyen songs without proper context can encourage erroneous beliefs about Ts’msyen culture.

To provide proper context for Ts’msyen songs, they “must be put into the appropriate cultural context,” said Gray. Such a context would accurately answer questions such as, “Who composed the song? What’s the composer’s lineage? Why did they compose the song? Where does the song belong? Who has the rights to sing the song, and in what context?”

On the issue of the missing and incorrect metadata for the Ts’msyen song recordings, Fox said that such knowledge gaps are not unusual when collecting recordings of songs of Indigenous people.

“Such problems are endemic to such collections [as the Center’s collections of Navajo and Hopi recordings] and do point to a larger issue of colonialist mentality in the archiving of Indigenous recordings for sure,” said Fox.

Explaining how Gray helped Columbia complete the Boulton collection, Fox said, “What happened with the audio for the Boulton Ts’msyen recordings is that some of it wound up at the Indiana University archive of traditional music unlabelled.”

Fox and Gray “were able to determine that those unlabelled tapes were some of the missing audio.”

“So the pieces have been recovered — but that was a serendipitous thing had [Gray] not begun her inquiry when she did, and had not several clues aligned to point to looking at Indiana for missing audio.”

Gray concluded her talk by outlining her position on who should retain ownership of Ts’msyen song recordings, saying that institutions with ownership of “Indigenous cultural material” must “be prepared to give up control of Indigenous cultural heritage if that is what the source community wishes.”

This ownership would allow the Ts’msyen people to ensure that any listeners of the songs would experience them in their proper cultural context.

Update (November 8, 7:31 pm): This story has been updated to include comment from Fox.

Four new branded vending machines added at UTM since summer

Best Buy vending machine latest addition

Four new branded vending machines added at UTM since summer

In the latest in a series of vending machines that have sprung up across UTM, a new Best Buy Express vending machine has made its home in UTM’s Communication, Culture, and Technology Building (CCT).

Since the summer, UTM has added four branded vending machines. The UTM Recreation, Athletics and Wellness Centre (RAWC) acquired a My Lil’Healthmart vending machine earlier this summer, while a Reis & Irvy’s frozen yogurt vending machine — which is reportedly not working very well — was put in CCT sometime in September. An automated THEOS Coffee Espresso Bar machine replaced the Second Cup in the Instructional Centre (IB).

“We have found that our students are spending more time and longer hours on campus [including] evenings and weekends,” explained Suresh Krishnan, Manager of Retail Services at UTM’s Hospitality & Retail Services Department. “We work diligently to accommodate their needs when other food services are not available.”

Most food services on campus close by 7:00 pm. Only the Pizza Pizza in the William G. Davis Building and the Subway and Quesada in IB remain open until 9:00 pm, while the Tim Hortons in the Davis building, the Starbucks in the Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Center (HMALC), and the Chatime connected to the Student Centre remain open until 10:00 pm, from Monday to Thursday. The Tea Bar in Oscar Peterson Hall (OPH) is open until 9:00 pm every day, and the Colman Commons Dining Hall in OPH is open until midnight from Sunday to Friday and until 9:00 pm on Saturday.

“We have recently expanded our vending program to include a second tier of products,” said Krishnan, “including ice cream and specialty coffees as well as non-food items such as those offered through the My Lil’Health Mart and Best Buy machines.”

When asked about why Best Buy was chosen over other vendors like Staples or The Source, Krishnan explained that a variety of factors influenced the decision.

“Brand recognition and customer service records are critically important considerations,” he expressed.

The Best Buy vending machine sells a variety of technological devices ranging from Bluetooth headphones, Fitbits, external hard drives, and phone chargers to instant cameras and even an electric razor. Customers can purchase these items with a credit card, and exchange or return these items at any Best Buy store. The vending machine also guarantees customers the lowest prices, promising to match prices from Best Buy Stores and

Krishnan added that the machines have built-in anti-theft features.

“In general, UTM is a very safe environment,” he elaborated. “Our campus police are dedicated to creating and maintaining a safe and secure environment, and officers are on duty 24 hours a day, 365 [days] a year.”

Krishnan did not explicitly say whether UTM planned to add more vending machines around campus in the upcoming months, citing feedback and demand as deciding factors.

“If there is a demand for additional vending machines,” Krishnan added, “we welcome hearing from students, staff and faculty.”

What makes a building sustainable?

Looking into U of T's LEED-certified buildings

What makes a building sustainable?

The University of Toronto plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 37 per cent from its 1990 levels by 2030. This is part of the University Climate Change Coalition commitment, which U of T joined in February.

According to Ron Saporta, U of T’s Chief Operations Officer of Facilities and Services, around 50,000 metric tonnes of carbon emissions have been eliminated in the past ten years on the St. George campus alone.

Making changes to existing infrastrcture poses challenges, but according to Saporta, no challenge is insurmountable, and those that arise are expected from a campus of this size and age.

A new greenhouse gas project is in the works on all three campuses, part of an overarching project that is anticipated to be completed by the end of next March.

The Athletic Centre at UTSG will also acquire photovoltaic and photothermal panels, and a new 14-storey academic tower made of timber will be built above the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport.

Already, there are many sustainable buildings at U of T, 12 of which have attained a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC) awards these ratings based on the type of building being assessed.

The Varsity ranked each of these buildings according to a standardized percentage score, calculated from comparing the points awarded to each building by LEED to a total possible number of points for each criteria.

Among the following buildings, six have Gold certification and four have Silver. Out of all certifications granted by the CaGBC, Platinum is the highest, followed by Gold, Silver, and Credited as the lowest.

Exam Centre (UTSG)

LEED Rating: Gold 63%

Certified in 2009, the Exam Centre uses rainwater to reduce water consumption by 62 per cent. In 2017, the addition of photovoltaic solar panels successfully lowered electricity needs, generating 75,000 kW-hours per year. The green wall on the first floor acts as a natural air cleaner.

Lassonde Mining Building (UTSG)

LEED Rating: Gold 61.4%

The Lassonde Mining Building was renovated in November of 2011, converting unused spaces such as the attic into “student design studios,” teaching spaces, and even a rooftop meeting room. Photovoltaic panels produce energy required for lighting and technology in the Goldcorp Mining Innovation Suite. Other measures such as thermal buffer zones for improved insulation, automated smart blinds, and skylights were also implemented to minimize energy consumption.

Environmental Science and Chemistry Building (UTSC)

LEED Rating: Gold 58.2%

This building houses UTSC’s Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences and features 2,890 square metres of research and teaching labs. An earth tube system ventilates the building while a geothermal pump cools and heats it. Materials with low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), such as paint and adhesives, were used in addition to low-flow plumbing and rain water usage to reduce the building’s carbon footprint. Other green features include glazing on the windows to reduce heat transfer, electric vehicle charging stations, and a green roof.

Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre (UTSC)

LEED Rating: Gold 57.3%

This high performance sports facility was built with 30 per cent recyclable material. 95 per cent of all construction waste was diverted from landfills, and instead recycled, reused, or composted. The Sports Centre also uses geothermal heating, which supports 40 per cent of the building’s heating and 99 per cent of cooling demands. Its 1,854 solar panels generate enough energy to power 20 standard homes a year. As well, the building consumes around 37 per cent less water than a standard building of its size, and saves around 1.8 million liters of water per year.

Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex (UTM)

LEED Rating: Gold 57.1%

The Health Sciences Complex was built in 2011 using low-emitting materials, which contribute to better indoor environmental quality. The building’s underground cistern houses rainwater for irrigation that has helped reduce water consumption by 50 per cent. Stainless steel panels were also configured to provide insulation during the winter, and the building’s exterior was designed to prevent heat gain to eliminate the need for cooling systems. The central district energy plant also eliminated the need for independent boilers, chillers, and cooling towers.

Rotman School of Management – South Building (UTSG)

LEED Rating: Gold 55.7%

The building features nine stories connected to existing Victorian era infrastructure, with measures to prevent the heat island effect, such as the rooftop garden, use of 30 per cent less water, and optimized energy performance. The building also diverted 75 per cent of its waste away from landfills, and used 32 per cent locally processed and manufactured materials in its construction.

Instructional Building (UTM)

LEED Rating: Silver 52.9%

The UTM Instructional Building was finalized in 2011, complete with a geothermal heat pump which stores heat in the ground during the summer and uses it in the winter to supply heating and cooling systems. A small amount of electricity is used to run the underground pumps, located in the wells field. A 21 kilowatt solar electric system is also in place, and solar panels reduce the cooling load. Other energy-efficient initiatives in place include using computers, lighting, and tech equipment with minimal waste, as well as using the orientation of the building to maximize on natural light. The building itself is made from local material that is durable, and renewable or recycled.

Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre (UTM)

LEED Rating: Silver 50%

This 24 hour building opened in 2007 on the site of an old parking lot, and is one of the 44 libraries at the university. It is home to an electronic shelving system that allows shelves to move on a track, and maintains a rooftop garden, which helps to counteract the urban heat island effect. It also has low-emitting building materials and low-flow plumbing to improve air quality and reduce water usage. A green cleaning program has been implemented, among other operations that target indoor air quality.

Munk School of Global Affairs (UTSG)

LEED Rating: Silver 47.1%

After renovations in 2012, the building features new green aspects like measures to reduce water use by 30 per cent, contribute to ozone protection, and use innovative designs such as low mercury lamps. The renovation of the building itself used low-emitting material, and diverted at least 75 per cent of water from the landfill. Part of the building was also built with wood, a sustainable resource.

Innovation Complex (UTM)

LEED Rating: Silver 45.5%

The Innovation Complex houses offices, classrooms, and study rooms. There is a green roof, a system of low-flow plumbing fixtures, and ample natural light to enhance energy savings. In addition, a number of exterior “fins” prevent heat retention and reduce the need for cooling energy. The Complex also features efficient lighting fixtures that sense when a room is empty and automatically turn off.

New buildings in the works at UTM

Plans not finalized for location, full purpose of proposed Robotics Building, Arts & Culture building

New buildings in the works at UTM

UTM plans to build up to three new academic buildings over the next four years, as a part of the implementation of its five-year Academic Plan that it introduced last year.

This year, the campus plans to finalize designs for both a Science Building and a Robotics Building, as well as initiate discussions to possibly construct an Arts & Culture Building. Though construction is slated to start soon, there are very few details about the location or full purpose of the Robotics Building and the Arts & Culture Building.

According to UTM’s Implementation Plan — an evolving document that details the steps that the administration is taking to achieve the Academic Plan — construction of the Science Building is scheduled to begin sometime in the next two years and finish around 2021.

The Science Building will be located between the Davis Building and the Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex. It will consist of roughly 7,134 net assignable square metres spread over four floors, with a mechanical penthouse on the fifth floor.

There are also proposals to include a High Performance Computing Data Centre, as well as laboratories and offices, to satisfy the laboratory needs of research facilities at UTM and to accommodate the activities of UTM’s Centre for Medicinal Chemistry, which was launched in 2016 to develop drugs targeting cancer and other diseases.

The Forensic Science program, which is currently located in the Health Sciences Complex, as well as Campus Shipping & Receiving, which is currently located in the William G. Davis Building, are also slated for relocation to the Science Building.

With a budget exceeding $20 million, construction of the Science Building will be funded by a combination of sources, including UTM Capital Reserves and Long-term Borrowing, along with donations and funding. There will also be possible fund-matching from the Provost.

Robotics Building

Construction of the Robotics Building is slated to begin this academic year for an expected opening sometime between 2020 and 2021. However, it is yet to be determined where or why construction will occur.

“[The Robotics Building will be] much like a technical garage for working on autonomous vehicles,” explained Professor Ulrich Krull, Principal of UTM and Vice-President of the University of Toronto, over email.

“This is not intended to be a significant academic building and will be a work shop, likely located near the Paleomagnetism Lab on Principal’s Road,” though Krull added that this was not confirmed.

At the UTM Campus Council meeting on October 3, Krull announced that UTM had already hired three staff members for the Robotics Department.

“The initial robotics faculty members will join their Computer Science colleagues in Deerfield Hall,” wrote Krull.

Arts & Culture Building

The fate of the Arts & Culture Building remains unknown.

“For Robotics and Arts and Culture, there are no decisions about where the construction will happen, and no decisions about the purpose of the buildings,” wrote Krull.

“The Arts and Culture Building is a placeholder for a project that might take place after the science building is completed, and the science building will not be fully complete before 2022.”

Krull added that discussions are in progress, and that any issues must first be considered by a project planning committee before any plans can be finalized for construction to begin.

“UTM has not even assembled these committees as yet,” said Krull. “When there is a consensus it will be possible to move to the project planning stage to lay out firm plans.”

Ongoing construction continues to place stress on campus operations. So far, construction is in progress for an unnamed new building, to finish the new North Building, and to renovate the Davis Building.