Durham College is $13 million closer to replacing aging Simcoe building

Left to right: Don Lovisa, DC President, Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Whitby MP, Elaine Popp, VP Academics at DC, Granville Anderson, Durham MPP, Douglas Allingham, Board of Governors member at DC
Left to right: Don Lovisa, DC President, Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Whitby MP, Elaine Popp, VP Academics at DC, Granville Anderson, Durham MPP, Douglas Allingham, Board of Governors member at DC
Left to right: Don Lovisa, DC President, Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Whitby MP, Elaine Popp, VP Academics at DC, Granville Anderson, Durham MPP, Douglas Allingham, Board of Governors member at DC accepting $13 million grant from federal government Sept. 14.

Durham College’s $40-million plan to replace the Simcoe building got a $13-million investment from the federal government which pledged the money in support of the Centre for Collaborative Education (CFCE) project.

Plans for the CFCE were announced in April 2014, as a multi-level, technologically-advanced facility to replace the Simcoe building, which was supposed to be a temporary learning environment when it opened in 1969.

“Today’s investment is about more than just a physical building,” said Granville Anderson, Durham MPP at a presentation Sept. 14. “It’s about building Durham College’s size, diversity and partnerships to give students access to the best learning experiences.”

At the funding announcement, it was revealed the CFCE will house services such as the Aboriginal and Student Diversity centres as well as the Spark Innovation Centre, a place that supports student and community entrepreneurs. The facility will also include space for the Global Class initiative where students have access to experts from more than 40 countries, and modern classrooms and labs for health science students, including a spa for massage therapy, cosmetology and aesthetics.

“The funding is only available to great projects such as this, so I’m really proud to stand here and advocate for Durham College,” said Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Whitby MP.

According to Durham College president Don Lovisa, the initial request for funding from the federal government was $18.5 million. The application incorporated two additional smaller projects: a specialized food lab for Whitby’s Centre for Food (CFF), and an agricultural research area to be developed at the corner of Conlin and Thornton roads.

Both projects are still on Caesar-Chavannes’s radar as she joked “I haven’t forgotten that I still have a job to do.”

The $13-million federal investment was granted in addition to $22 million from the provincial government pledged in April 2016. According to Lovisa, this is the largest sum of money received from the government for a project at Durham College, and the additional $5 million necessary for the project will be fundraised over the next two years.

Don Lovisa in front of Simcoe building during donor presentation Sept. 14.

When the plan was first announced, it was estimated at a cost of about $35 million. The budget has since gone up to incorporate more sustainable infrastructure. According to Lovisa, the entire roof is going to be solar panels, and a living wall similar to the one in Whitby’s CFF will grow inside the CFCE.

Lovisa said the final price of $40 million is going to the Board of Governors on Oct. 12 for approval and construction is expected to begin this fall and completed in 2018.

With the road work surrounding Durham College set to finish by October, it appears construction around campus isn’t going to come to a complete halt. Students with classes in the Simcoe building will continue to learn in that space with the assembly of the CFCE going on around them. According to Lovisa, the Simcoe building will not be destroyed until the final step of construction.

“The noisiest part is going to be when they’re going into the ground,” Lovisa said, “We’ll put a wall in there that will help buffer some the noise. Yes, there’s going to be disruptions, but there always is when you build.”

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