Parking deck construction stalled due to weather conditions

The lack of parking spaces leaves students circling the lots. Edward Cai/ The Medium

Don’t expect the sight of huge trucks, heavy machinery, and hard hats around UTM to go away anytime soon. Several multi-million-dollar projects around campus are slated to continue until next spring, but one bit of construction is on the verge of wrapping up. Staff and students who drive to UTM will be able to park a few steps closer to the Recreation, Athletics, and Wellness Centre by the third week of October.

The parking deck was originally scheduled to open on September 27. There are currently no plans to further expand campus parking.

The second level of the new parking complex outside the RAWC will be able to serve 300 cars, with space for an additional 300 already available below.

Paul Manna, project superintendent with Dineen Construction, the construction company responsible for building the new parking deck, said that the project has been delayed due to bad weather.

“We’re so close to being done, and we want to give it [the parking lot] back to the school, but whenever it rains we get a bit of a setback,” said Manna. “At times we’ve put in 12- to 13-hour days—and thankfully we did, or the weather may have pushed us back even further.”

The waterproofing on the top level is complete, and the asphalt has been put down on about half of the top deck. The next step is the construction of a pedestrian bridge, complete with a ramp to the upper deck to provide wheelchair access. The new two-level parking structure comes with a $6-million price tag.

With a limited amount of spaces reserved for department use, lot 1 is currently sold out to staff and faculty who purchased parking passes before students. Due to construction in lot 1, certain spaces were not available for sale, but have since been sold to students who were waitlisted.

Meanwhile, the biggest projects on campus—the Instructional Centre and Health Sciences Complex—continue to take shape. The straight lines, steel plates, and glass panes should be polished and completed in late March or early April of 2011.

Meanwhile, Christopher Rizzo, Development Manager at the University, said that construction of the Instructional Centre (IC) is ahead of schedule, while the work on the Health Sciences Complex (HSC) is “a little bit behind”.

The Health Sciences Complex will provide new laboratory space for life sciences research as well as expanded facilities for the Biomedical Communications program and U of T’s Academy of Medicine. The cost of the new building is pegged at $36 million, with funding coming from the government of Ontario, the University of Toronto, and private donors.

The construction of the new Instructional Centre will make room for UTM’s growing undergraduate and post-graduate student population. The IC will boast eight new lecture halls, 19 new classrooms, multiple study and lounge spaces, and food service. The federal government’s Knowledge Infrastructure Fund will fund the $70-million bill.

A smaller-scale project at the entrance to the CCT building near the Student Centre will keep the area fenced off for another couple of months. Workers there continue to drill away at the South Building’s north face to add office spaces. Construction supervisor John Giannetti says the project should end up as a sort of “Christmas gift”, with work set to finish at the end of November or early December. Giannetti did not comment on how much the work would cost.

The university also plans a $2-million upgrade to Outer Circle Road between the RAWC and the north entrance (off Mississauga Road). The upgrade will include the installation of a path alongside the road, two-and-a-half metres wide.

According to Rizzo, the roadwork will improve the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists.

“We’re seeing more and more people from the community walking, jogging, cycling, or walking their dog around the campus, and those people right now share the road [with drivers]. The aim is to separate cars from pedestrians and cyclists,” said Rizzo.

The upgrades along Outer Circle Road will also include new laneways outside the Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre and the Instructional Centre, to provide separate drop off points for each building. Construction crews are planned to work on Outer Circle Road though the fall and winter, with the project set to finish around the end of March 2011.

With all the new buildings coming up, Rizzo says there’s a need for better signage around campus. Buildings around UTM will be re-signed with names and numbers specific to them, as mandated by the City of Mississauga.

“The goal is to improve way-finding for students and for visitors, so we’ll be creating a new signage package with standardized signs both inside and outside buildings,” said Rizzo. “The buildings should be easy to find, especially for emergency responders. Right now, they don’t know what Oscar Peterson Hall is.”

For the time being, UTM students are coping with the construction. “I’m putting up with it, but it doesn’t really affect my daily life,” said Reem Aziz, a fourth-year DEM major.

Kara Chanel, a fourth-year sociology major, added, “It’s not that bad. I’ve been able to find a parking space when I’ve needed one. But most of the time I just park at South Common and take the bus here.”