November 26, 2020

BY NICOLE CLARK

Conestoga College Council members were shown tentative floor plans and other details connected with an upcoming expansion of the
Waterloo campus at a council meeting on Nov. 22.

The Conestoga North Campus Expansion Project is expected to increase the number of full-time students at the Waterloo campus from just over 900 to more than 3,000 and will be open by September 2018.

“I know the growth will be welcome there,” said Andrew Goodridge, faculty of trades and apprenticeship, on the expansion.

“It is going to be phased in, we’re going to minimize the disruption,” said John Tibbits, president of Conestoga College, adding that this will be achieved by completing the project in four phases.

The campus will focus mainly on IT, grad certificates and food, with hospitality students tripling in size. There will be multiple new culinary labs located in the new expansion and the current restaurant, bloom, will remain.

The move for IT from Doon to Waterloo means an opportunity for growth in the business and health fields at the Doon campus.
LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) will also be a part of the expanding campus where there will be a child-minding centre available for students so they can attend class for a few hours and bring their children. The child-minding centre will include an outdoor area for the children as well.

The expansion, which was originally going to be developed into a five-storey extension of the existing Waterloo campus, will now consist of a modern, wrap-around design with four storeys.

“Very practically, if you go five storeys your whole fire safety regulations will add a million and a half dollars,” said Tibbits, explaining the rationale behind reducing the expansion to four storeys.

However, the new expansion raises the question of parking, a topic all too familiar for those who commute to their classes at Conestoga’s Doon campus. When the construction is finished, there will be 125 fewer parking spots. However, because Waterloo campus is located downtown, there are expectations for more students, staff and faculty to use transit.

There are also talks of leasing nearby space for college parking.
“We’ll give everyone a Vespa, but seriously, we’re looking around,” said Tibbits.

The whole front of the expansion will have solar panels, adding to the modern design, and the inside will be spacious.

The food services area will also be much more open, eliminating the boxy feel it currently has, and will include a Tim Hortons and Subway. Conestoga Students Inc. is also looking into having its own space to dedicate to the students.

Construction is expected to get underway next month.

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