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Street party and groundbreaking celebrates UTSC’s new Instructional Centre

DIG IN: Officials break the ground for the new Instructional Centre at a celebration and street party on Sept. 24. Left to right: Wayne Arthurs, Jack Petch, Gary Goodyear, Franco Vaccarino, Rick Halpern, Derrick Fung, Jason Wei, Vinitha Gengatharan, Don Schmitt, and Vassos Hadzilacos. (All photos by Ken Jones.)

by Mary Ann Gratton

Shovels hit the dirt with gusto at the University of Toronto Scarborough yesterday at a ceremony and street party organized to mark the groundbreaking for the new Instructional Centre. To view more photos, click here.

Under sunny skies on a perfect fall day, a section of Military Trail was closed to cars as people spilled out onto the road for a huge and festive celebration to mark the official groundbreaking. Students, staff, faculty, alumni, government officials and members of the community all joined the party.

As the largest single facility to be built since the campus was founded in 1964, the new Instructional Centre will increase UTSC academic facilities by 25 per cent and launches a new phase of construction on UTSC’s north campus. The building is scheduled for completion in 2011.

Streamers were released as a variety of entertainers unleashed their talent. Those in attendance enjoyed performances by student jazz musicians, a South Asian student dance troupe, and a break-dance crew, a comedy improv act, and a blues folk singer. Street artists painted a giant canvas taped down on the street, while people satisfied their hearty appetites with burgers, corn on the cob and fresh popcorn. A harvest vegetable sale took place prior to the ceremony.

Wielding the shovels were Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology) and (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario) and Wayne Arthurs, MPP (Pickering-Scarborough East), and Professor Franco Vaccarino, Principal of U of T Scarborough.

Other officials on site were: Derrick Fung, UTSC 2008 Co-op student of the year; Vinitha Gengatharan, President, UTSC alumni association; Prof. Vassos Hadzilacos, chair, computer & mathematical sciences department; Prof. Rick Halpern, dean and vice-principal (academic); John (Jack) Petch, chair of U of T’s governing council; Don Schmitt, architect from Diamond Schmitt Architects; and Prof. Jason Wei, acting chair, management department.

“This groundbreaking ceremony marks a major milestone in UTSC’s growth as an intellectual and cultural hub for the eastern GTA,” said Vaccarino. “Today we are thrilled to begin a cutting-edge facility and a new phase of expansion. Thanks to the support of our federal and provincial governments, UTSC is able to build upon the breadth and excellence of its programs and scholarship, and provide even more opportunity for young talent and innovative partnerships to grow and thrive in this region.”

The $78 million building received federal and provincial funding totaling $70 million through the Knowledge Infrastructure Program and Ontario’s 2009 budget. Other investments include $8 million from the University of Toronto.

The Instructional and Laboratory Centre will bring much-needed space to the University of Toronto Scarborough. The 15,000-square-metre, $78-million building will accommodate the high-growth and in-demand programs on the campus, from Bachelor of Business Administration to the Master of Environmental Science. It will feature technology-enhanced classrooms, rooms for upper-year undergraduate and graduate students, research and teaching laboratories, and study space. All the students at the University of Toronto Scarborough will benefit from the new centre.

In total, the governments of Canada and Ontario are investing $1.5 billion in 49 projects at Ontario’s colleges and universities, through the Knowledge Infrastructure Program (KIP) and the Ontario 2009 Budget.

“By renewing the facilities at the University of Toronto Scarborough, researchers in Scarborough will have the tools they need to be global leaders in their fields and pursue world-class excellence,” said Goodyear. “It is one way that our government is working to strengthen Canada’s capacity to innovate and translate research into meaningful benefits for all Canadians.”

The Knowledge Infrastructure Program, a two-year, $2 billion economic stimulus measure to support infrastructure enhancement at Canadian post-secondary institutions is part of the $12 billion in new infrastructure investment allocated under Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

“Today marks a new phase in the history of the University of Toronto Scarborough, a history that has seen UTSC become a preferred destination for both students and teachers throughout Canada and the world,” said Arthurs. “With this $78 million expansion, UTSC and the Scarborough community will have access to higher education facilities that are second to none; it is indeed a great day for the University and for Ontario.”

For more information about the Knowledge Infrastructure Program, including program criteria,application instructions and a list of approved projects, please visit:

For information about how the Government of Ontario is helping to build and revitalize infrastructure across the province, please visit

© University of Toronto Scarborough