From fires and mice to everything nice

    St. Thomas University estimates the costs to renovate Vanier will be similar to Harrington’s, which were $5.4 million. (Alex Dascalu/AQ)

    In the last academic year, Vanier Hall experienced a small fire and mice were discovered in dorm rooms. This semester, the talk of substantial renovations to St. Thomas University’s all-girl residence is instilling positivity in residents.

    While nothing is finalized yet, Jeffrey Carleton, STU’s associate vice-president communications, said the plans will be finalized early in the new year.

    “Vanier is the next building scheduled for renovation and that will allow us to have a much more vibrant campus community which flows from a fully refurbished and modernized residence,” Carleton said.

    Second-year students Marie Keating and Megan Gibson have lived in Vanier for two years in a row. Keating described the building as “outdated” with “stuff falling apart.” She also said the building could be more accessible for students who need it.

    However, that didn’t stop her from returning to the residence once again.

    “It [Vanier Hall] was familiar, so I thought it would be nice to have that familiarity,” Keating said.

    Gibson also believes it’s about time for Vanier’s renovations. She said she’s excited to see the finished product and what changes will be made to the building.

    “It’s a great idea to complete these renovations and fix any issues with the current building [so] it will continue to be a thriving home for so many students in the future,” Gibson said in email.

    Just two years ago, the university renovated Harrington Hall, a co-ed residence on campus. The residence cost 5.4 million to renovate.

    The university estimates the renovations for Vanier will cost a similar amount to the Harrington one. The proposal will be taken for approval to the STU Board of Governors in February. The $400,000 left over from the Harrington Hall renovations will now go towards the Vanier renovations.

    “We would expect the costs will be similar to Harrington and we’re currently working with design engineers to finalize the cost because when we take the proposal to the Board of Governors early in the new year, we’ll have to have those details locked down,” Carleton said.

    Carleton said the school has been very fortunate because they’ve been able to use the knowledge and experience gained from doing Harrington’s renovation and apply it to the planning for Vanier’s.

    A renovation committee for Vanier, the Steering Committee for the Renewal of Vanier Hall, has already been formed and has representatives from facilities, administration, Residence Life and students.

    The committee has met since Nov. 2018. They gathered data from resident surveys and focus groups during the last academic year.

    “The administration wanted to be sure we understood what students wanted before proceeding with plans for renovations and upgrades to the residence,” said Carleton in email.

    St. Thomas University Students’ Union vice-president student life, Sarah Kohut, is the student representative and provides updates to the Student Representative Council. At their last meeting on Sept. 30, she said plumbing was discussed.

    She couldn’t be reached before print time.

    Certain details discussed among the committee will be released after the proposal to the Board of Governors.

    Brock Richardson, director of Student Services and Residence Life, said while nothing is confirmed, Holy Cross House will probably become an all-female residence in the place of Vanier until the renovation is finished since students value an all-female residence option.

    Richardson said completing the Vanier renovation over a Holy Cross House renovation would have a more significant impact on students and future students.

    “If we’re looking at in terms of impact, as it stands, Vanier has 198 beds and Holy Cross has 68,” Richardson said.

    Carleton said the feedback from students regarding the renovations in Harrington has been positive which motivates the Vanier renovation even further.

    “It adds to quality of student experience and the quality of student life on campus,” Carleton said.