UTM’s newest facility will be a modern, research-based greenhouse budgeted for over $3 million and is expected to be completed by February or March.
Located behind the library next to parking lot 9, the new structure is standing with a roof as glass plates are in the process of being installed.
“We have new faculty who are heavy greenhouse users and they have more specific environmental demands for their research,” said William Yasui, the senior facilities planner at UTM, when asked about the facility’s intended use. “It’s not intended to be a public space.”
In an interview with The Medium, Yasui stated construction is on budget for just over $3 million. The exact total of the project is not yet known.
According to the original proposal in 2013, annual costs to operate the greenhouse after it had been built were estimated between $140,000 and $153,600.
As it stands, UTM’s current greenhouse is primarily used for teaching purposes but also doubles as a research facility. The original greenhouse, located on the fifth floor of the Davis Building, will still remain operational and available for students.
According to Yasui, the new greenhouse will be “more practical” and the departments using the space will be “primarily biology, but also geography and anthropology, and any other researcher that needs controlled growing space”. Yasui also identified growth in UTM’s biology department as a factor causing the need for a larger, independent research space.
In a vision statement outlining the purpose of the facility, it was stated that the greenhouse is expected to aid in the understanding of climate change affecting biodiversity and plant development.
“Plant biology in the Department of Biology at UTM integrates research from genes to ecosystems,” reads the statement. “A highly compartmentalized research greenhouse therefore creates a unique facility that generates vital national and international collaborations for the Department of Biology and U of T.”
Due to the large budget, approval for the project needed to be sent to the Governing Council downtown. The proposal and plan for the project, including the budget, can be found online on the Governing Council webpage.