UMSU moves forward on University Centre renovations

The $1.4-million UMSU Street renovation project took a step forward at the University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) council’s regular meeting Jan. 7, with the approval of preliminary drawings and the creation of a management committee to oversee the project.

The renovations promise major changes to the third floor of University Centre, dubbed UMSU Street by the union.

The projects include expanding Degrees restaurant onto its outdoor patio space, creating a quiet study area near the Hub bar, and completely revamping IQ’s café and billiard hall.

The drawings focus on opening up the existing spaces and giving the third floor of University Centre more of a “street feel,” said UMSU president Jeremiah Kopp.

“It’s meant to make you feel like you’re walking down Osborne or Corydon,” he said.

The preliminary drawings outline the main floor and ceiling plans and furniture design for the project. The plans also create space for new food service businesses.

Allan Coppinger Architect is the firm tapped by UMSU for the project.

The project’s management committee will oversee the implementation of both the UMSU Street project and first-floor renovations to University Centre, producing quarterly reports back to council.
It will be composed of the UMSU president, vice-president internal, and general manager; two councillors, and two senior sticks. It will also include a representative of contracted project management and consultation services and a representative from the union’s endowment fund.

The committee is mandated to independently approve financial decisions but cannot stretch the $1.4-million budget.

Construction is slated to begin by the end of January or early February 2016 and Kopp said he is hoping to see the majority of the work done by the end of his term in the spring.

Kopp had earlier promised that the renovations would be entirely completed by the end of his term. However, he made it clear that UMSU plans to move “aggressively with this project.”

In the meeting, Kopp announced asbestos assessments have been conducted and the area is ready for the renovations to begin.

He noted the motion is intended to contribute to the transparency and accountability council promises throughout the implementation of the project.

“With any large investment from UMSU and the student membership, it’s always of paramount importance that transparency and accountability are maintained throughout the project,” Kopp told the Manitoban.

“Every step of the way, UMSU council and the UMSU executive team have ensured that rigorous processes have been in place to ensure this.”