With the fall term set to begin, ongoing construction for the revitalization project in University Centre is raising concerns for some students with living with a disability.
The project, which is currently behind schedule, aims to make the centre more aesthetically pleasing and easier to navigate for students who may be visually impaired or physically disabled.
“We’ve had some problems with the sub-floor and we’re putting a quick patch cement over it but with the intention that all of the University Centre will be [ . . . ] be smooth, and the whole place will be open on Tuesday [Sept. 8] morning, without barricades, or with minimal barricades, so access will be wide open,” explained Pat Reid, director of Ancillary Services at the U of M.
Despite these setbacks, Reid was optimistic about the progress of the construction and was confident that the university will be able to meet the standards laid out by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) with a quick patch cement solution.
Bryan Douglas, University of Manitoba Students’ Union representative for students living with disabilities, said he sees huge concerns for students who have a visual or physical impairment.
“I’m really concerned about students who are on crutches or need other adaptive services and are going to be coming to our campus. I am concerned about their safety,” said Douglas.
“I personally, going down one of the walking areas, I fell down and hurt myself a little.”
Douglas went on to say that while he understood that it is a complicated project, he was hoping that the renovations would be done in time for the start of classes. If not, he is planning on sending a letter of concern to the university administration.
Douglas advised students contact him about any problems they had with the construction around campus at firstname.lastname@example.org and said he is also setting up a website, umsudisability.ca, where there will be a private forum where students can discuss their concerns about the campus.
Carolyn Christie, U of M coordinator for Disability Services, felt that the work being done to University Centre was worth it and that the construction would not overly impact student life.
Christie said that at this point, her department has not received any formal complaints about University Centre.
“I understand that the contractors are working to ensure that a stable surface will be ready for the start of the fall session [ . . . ]. I am hoping that the completion time is accurate and that there are relatively few problems for students with disabilities,” said Christie.
“Physical Plant and the contractors have been great at troubleshooting any problems and giving us warning about any areas that are blocked off.”