SA approves $1.6 million for Casa Loma renovation

Plans for the Casa Loma student centre renovations will include better lighting and more flexible student areas

he Casa Loma student centre currently has tables and chairs bolted to the ground which makes it difficult to use the space for other events. Photo: Preeteesh Singh/The Dialog

he Casa Loma student centre currently has tables and chairs bolted to the ground which makes it difficult to use the space for other events. File Photo: Preeteesh Singh/The Dialog

This summer, George Brown College’s (GBC) Casa Loma campus Student Centre, nicknamed “the dungeon”, will be renovated with the goal of transforming it into an open, well lit and fully functional area.

Upon entering the main floor of Casa Loma, students are greeted by harsh lighting and an uninviting environment. Following the pathway beyond the Student Association (SA) office, students can hear an echoing of music videos playing on television screens and the panic of the foosball table players when their ball has dropped offside.

The Student Centre will face drastic changes when construction begins at the end of April with changes intended to make a more appealing space for students to visit and hang out in by the start of the fall semester.

“The problem is there is a lot of space, thousands and thousands of square feet, and not a lot of money,” said Thomas Hadwen, the SA’s Casa Loma campus director.

On Feb. 4 the SA board of directors approved a $1.6 million budget for the renovations, with $1.3 million coming from the building fund and $300,000 from the health plan fund.

“Over the years the health and dental plan has accumulated a surplus which is separate from the reserve fund required by the insurer,” said the SA’s executive director Antoinette Davis via email. “These are monies that the Student Association can use in order to respond to the needs of our members.”

The end goal is to make the space more usable and comfortable for students.

“What we are focusing on is lighting. It’s a trade college mostly at Casa Loma. It’s very industrial. We are looking for a rugged, more industrial look while incorporating new options,” said Hadwen of his vision for the Student Centre.

Last year, 891 students at Casa Loma campus took a survey through World Café to make their voice heard about proposed changes to the Student Centre. Overall, students were looking for more and better food options, a more inviting space and better and more flexible seating options rather than what Hadwen calls the “prison style” seating currently there.

This bolted-to-the-floor seating limits flexible use of the facilities and creates an uncomfortable arrangement for students, unable to lean back or arrange tables.

There are also plans to make the space more open and to welcome in the natural lighting from the light well. There will be hundreds of square feet added to the common areas and two new food vendors for students.

To do this the Community Action Centre and the food bank offices will be relocated to the east side of the Student Centre.

“We’re looking to be maximizing space and better using the current space we have,” said Hadwen.

This plan sheds more light into what will be formerly known as a dungeon in hopes of creating a brighter and more positive space.

There is also a proposed gaming room that may include the pool table Hadwen has promised Casa Loma students for two years.

According to Davis, the existing food vendors will be open and accessible during the renovations.

Casa Loma campus has seen a few makeovers in the past year, from the recently updated D building to the Casa Loma gymnasium and now the Student Centre. Every student pays a fee which is paid into building funds to cover renovations. The students spoke and the college and Student Association listened and are putting plans into action.

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SA approves $1.6 million for Casa Loma renovation