Capital plan means more parking, residences and dining options on campus

Move the slider from left to right to see a then vs. now comparison of DeCew Residence

Later this month, when exams are over and the last student has checked out, workers will begin a massive renovation of DeCew Residence that will modernize Brock’s oldest residence building.

The exhaustive list of structural upgrades and architectural improvements, necessary to extend the life of and improve the student experience in the 50-year-old residence, will include everything from ventilation and electrical systems to windows, bathrooms, roofing and fire alarms. It will also create more open spaces and a brighter, more welcoming environment.

The DeCew renewal is part of a major self-funding infrastructure plan that was approved last fall by the Board of Trustees. Over the next several years, it will result in new or updated buildings and services related to residences, dining halls and parking areas.

“We are a growing University,” said Brock President Gervan Fearon. “This major initiative will create much-needed new or updated facilities, and because these are revenue-generating services, the project will pay for itself without otherwise affecting campus operations.”

The DeCew facelift is at the head of the list because of the building’s age and condition. The renewal will take place over two phases and will be completed by June 2021. While the work is being done, administrative or other offices will be relocated to temporary quarters on campus.

“It’s about modernizing DeCew to allow students to stay in the modern environments they should be in,” said Brian Hutchings, Vice-President, Administration. “It’s also about adding more social space for them and more areas they can study in.”

A second major piece of the capital plan will add much-needed parking spaces to the main campus, as well as a new arterial road serving the west end of the University.

Lot S, located in the southwest corner of the University property, will be expanded to accommodate 327 new parking spots, while Village Road will be extended to provide a through route from Walker Complex, through Village Residence and exiting out onto Isaac Brock Circle at Lot S. The project will be completed in two phases with initial work slated to begin in May and the full project expected to be wrapped up by the end of August 2020.

Hutchings said Brock’s record enrolment has led to increased demand for parking. There were times earlier this year when cars were forced to park on grass or gravel areas as all available spots were taken.

“As anyone who shows up to campus at 2 p.m. knows, we need more parking,” Hutchings said. “This plan adds parking in areas where we can’t build more buildings and it’s space we need for the future. It will help out immensely with demand.”

A third leg of the capital plan will enhance campus dining services, including updates to the dining halls in DeCew and Lowenberger residences, as well as modernizing Guernsey Market to allow for expansion into additional food options. This project, slated to run from later this month until July 2021, would also expand other food options across campus, including in high-demand areas such as Thistle corridor.

“We’ve listened to our students and we’re trying to change the dining experience by investing in dining,” said Hutchings.

The final and biggest piece of the capital plan will answer a chronic demand for more residence beds, with a residence capable of handling more than 250 additional students, along with a supporting dining hall, to be built next to the existing Earp Residence. Slated for construction in 2020, the Residence 8 project will provide more capacity for first-year students wanting on-campus living, and will also increase capacity for conferences hosted on campus during the summer months.

The initial cost of the project will be financed through debt, but is forecast to be cashflow positive within two to three years, and then generate significant revenue once the debt is repaid.

“It will have no effect on University operations,” Hutchings said. “The new revenue will offset the expenses and will generate more revenue to distribute back to the University to help out with teaching and learning.”

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