Plans for Student Union Building Move Forward

Process of designing and building a SUB in the early stages
Joseph Keller, Web Editor

(Nicole Kwit, The Runner)

The Kwantlen Student Association is beginning to move forward with plans to build a new student union building on the Surrey campus.

A KSA “steering committee” for the creation of a SUB recently held its first meeting to form project plans, and according to the May 19 President’s Report to the KSA delivered by KSA President Tanvir Singh, things are moving “very quickly.” The project will be entirely student-led and funded, although the building will remain the property of the university.

“We’re super excited that we’re going ahead with the consultations on this project,” says Singh. “We’re super excited to have this building up and running as soon as humanly possible, and about the opportunities it will provide to KPU students.”

The building will serve as the primary operating quarters for the KSA, who will use it for office and council meeting space. It will also host various student constituencies.

Singh says that the KSA is envisioning the SUB as “a community hub where we’re able to engage students and really bring the KSA to the forefront of the [KPU] community.”

Funding for the project has been collected by the KSA via student fees since 2009 when students voted in a referendum to approve a Student Union Building Capital Fee. Singh says that there will be no additional cost to students as the project moves forward. The KSA has negotiated a loan from Vancity Credit Union to secure the remainder of the funding required for the designing and building phases. Students will continue paying the Student Union Building Capital Fee until the loan is paid off.

Thus far, the early steering committee meetings have largely focused on weighing the pros and cons of two different approaches to designing and building the facility.

The standard approach to construction that has historically been used in Canada is referred to as “design-bid-build.” If they used this method, the KSA would hire and work with an architectural firm to design every detail of the building in a blueprint. From there they would entertain bids from construction companies to build it. This process would give the KSA complete control of every detail of the final project, but each step is time consuming, and the price of materials and labour needed for construction fluctuates.

An alternative approach is referred to as “design-build” and involves the KSA relinquishing some control in favor of an expedited timeline and a flat budget. With this method, KSA organisers would set parameters rather than creating their own design. The building companies would bring their own designs as part of the bidding process. The budget is more definitively set under this method as builders are contractually obligated to stay within the agreed upon budget, and they shoulder the risk associated with fluctuating market costs. Singh says that the latter is the approach that he personally favors, as it’s likely the fastest way to get the building completed.

“My personal [opinion] is that we’ve waited quite a long time for this building to come up and it’s about time that we started building this building really soon,” says Singh.

Hard facts about the SUB are scarce at this time, as it’s still very early in the planning process. A definite location for it has not been set, but a currently vacant spot of land next to the Surrey campus that was donated to the university by the Westerman family last year has been discussed as a likely possibility.