Financing union projects

The Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union (WLUSU) has had several projects underway over the summer months that are currently in various stages of completion. Some projects were financed on credit while the others were paid for through the student life levy – a fee that amounts to just over $40 a semester per full-time student.

2010-2011 capital expenditures

From the 2010 capital expenditures approved by the board of directors in early June, $100,000 worth of student life levy funds were appropriated to renovations and LCD displays for the Fred Nichols Campus Centre (FNCC). The other major projects, an alcohol management system for the union’s bars, a smartphone application, and improvements to the Pita Shack and Wilf’s, were financed in their entirety. In all, this year’s projects alone leave WLUSU $170,000 in the red if the final costs reflect the budget.

The Terrace expansion

The $1.1 million expansion of the Terrace food court is still relatively on schedule for completion according to WLUSU general manager Mike McMahon. “We’re still looking at last week of October, first week of November occupancy for the seating area,” he said. “We don’t feel that we’ll be delayed in using the space beyond the original plan.”

The final cost of the project is expected to exceed initial projections. “Budget-wise at the end of the day you’ll see it come in over budget related to extra mechanical work related to existing plumbing not considered by the original project,” McMahon explained. “It might be within the normal range of ten per cent,” he added, “We’re waiting for a few more quotes to come in on key portions of building.”

Before the completion of this Terrace renovation, further alterations to the area are being discussed. Originally slated for Christmas break, an expansion of the Union Market has been pushed back to next summer over concerns that it would interrupt service.

“We didn’t want to get in to a construction project and then find out it’s delayed and we can’t open until February,” said Rob Sexton, WLUSU food and beverage manager. “That would just be disastrous for everybody.”

The digital sign

A new sign on the façade of the FNCC featuring a LED board in its centre was installed in late August. Originally scheduled to be installed last December, delays moved the tentative install date to the end of June, and only a few weeks ago was the sign actually hung and turned on.

The sign totaled approximately $105,000 before taxes according to McMahon, including an unexpected installation cost of $19,000. “Connecting it to the building, our original estimate was like $7500 maybe,” said McMahon, who cited difficulties in anchoring the sign’s mounts to the building as the culprit for the cost. “It was like $20,000 – you can buy a vehicle for that, but that’s what stuff costs.”

The sign was approved for a share of student life levy funds from three years ago that contributed $42,000 to the project.

Initially, a high-definition colour display was considered along with the LED sign alternative that was ultimately chosen and installed. “That same-sized sign, in high definition digital … before you even get started and just based on per square foot cost, would have been $256,000 total cost for that size,” said McMahon, noting that the exorbitant installation cost would still apply.

“It would have been nice to have but you don’t really need it,” McMahon concluded on the topic of a higher-resolution alternative. “This is going to serve us very well. “