By Mary Chan
University of Calgary students faced a partially-boarded food court when they returned to class Monday–the latest phase of MacEwan Hall redevelopment.
"We have two projects going on right now," said Students’ Union Vice-president Operations and Finance Amanda Affonso. "One is in the Black Lounge, in the tiled area. A permanent wall is going up and that area will be used for club offices."
The religious clubs, currently occupying office space beside the Ray Alward Lounge on the third floor of MacEwan Hall, will move to the new space, freeing up "swing space" for future development.
"Ultimately with redevelopment, all clubs will end up in new space," said SU President Rob South. "We necessitate temporary space from time to time to accommodate these clubs."
The second project involves the "fishbowl" seating area of the food court.
"In the food court where the microwaves are, we’re building new kiosks," said Affonso. "[Old] kiosks will be eliminated and be turned into student seating."
Five new kiosks are planned, three of which will house Favours, Primo Bistro and TacoTime. The remaining two kiosks will be filled with new undetermined vendors.
The cost of the renovations are still being estimated. Some of the cost will come from money saved during a previous project phase.
"We were under budget by 30 per cent for the staircase and Max infills, so the money from that project is going towards the club office space," said Affonso.
Though the project eliminates food court seating, the SU says there is no net loss of seating.
"All the tables just got moved to a different area," said South. "We already took care of students in the meantime with the infills in the summer when we filled in the spaces over Max’s, so there was no loss of space for students."
Most students support the changes if they result in more space, but some question the project’s timing.
"They should have done it in the Spring and Summer rather than waste peak time," said sixth-year Political Science student Shabbir Khatri about the Black Lounge renovation. "In the Spring it wouldn’t have been that bad, because there’s hardly anybody in here."
Closely associated with redevelopment is the new MacEwan Hall expansion, for which the SU is still looking for funding.
During his presidential campaign last year, South promised a referendum on whether to continue expansion if construction had not started by October. South says a March referendum will be held.
"There’s a big vote in March," he said, referring to the SU General Election. "If we don’t have anything happening by then, there’ll be a referendum. At the very least, tender, which is a legally binding contract, has to be signed."
South added that even if expansion doesn’t go through, the current changes are still justified.
"The renovations and redevelopments are still a benefit to students," he said. "It’s making space be used more efficiently. It is providing both more services for students and more lounge/study space."
The SU hopes the work will finish by January 2000.