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UTSC students vote YES to new athletics complex in historic referendum

A majority of students at the University of Toronto Scarborough have voted “YES” to a new state-of-the-art athletics complex following a historic referendum.

The University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) was notified on Sunday by the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) of the results of its referendum on a financial levy to support a new athletics and recreation complex.

The unofficial vote count is: 1454 yes, 748 no, representing a 62 per cent majority in favour of YES (with 58 abstained and 77 spoiled ballots). The results are unofficial until they pass through the normal schedule of ratification by the SCSU and the University.

From March 17 to 19, 2010, the students voted on whether or not to support a financial levy to be paid as part of each student’s fee package over a 25-year period. The student contribution of $30 million represents 18 per cent of the total value of the $171 million complex, with the remaining 82 per cent contributed by the University and federal, provincial and city governments.

“This is extraordinary news,” says Amir Bashir, Acting President, SCSU. “With this vote, our students have clearly spoken that UTSC students deserve world-class facilities as does the community in which we all live. I am extremely proud of our students who have had the vision and courage to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and contribute to the future of this great campus.”

With 2,337 ballots cast, this represents 23 per cent of the student body and the highest participation level of any student referendum on the UTSC campus. For the past 18 months, the students at UTSC have been working side-by-side with the other partners in developing plans for this new athletics and recreation complex. Students at UTSC have been advocating for decades for enhanced facilities. The existing athletics facility was designed for 4,000 students and is inadequate for today’s student population of over 10,000.

“We are excited to learn from our Student Union that our students have decided to proceed with this partnership,” says Prof. Franco Vaccarino, Principal of University of Toronto Scarborough, and Vice President, University of Toronto. “This new facility will be an outstanding legacy for generations of UTSC students and the people who live in this region. We’re grateful for the strong working partnership we have with our students. Because of our shared vision and ongoing commitment to work together, we are able to bring about transformative change for this campus.”

The $171 million athletics and recreation complex will feature two Olympic-sized pools, a 10-metre diving tank and a state-of-the-art multi-sport field house, and will be a legacy facility to be constructed for the 2015 Pan and Para-pan American Games.

“We look forward to working with our students and our partners to bring the athletics complex to fruition,” adds Principal Vaccarino. “On behalf of everyone at University of Toronto, I’d like to congratulate our students for creating this opportunity to bring a world-class centre to our campus that will complement the international calibre of our academic facilities and programs.”

“I am just delighted by this outcome, and congratulate the UTSC student body and academic leadership for their visionary, constructive approach to the revitalization of sport and physical activity at U of T,” says Bruce Kidd, dean of the Faculty of Physical Education and Health. “The vote will yield important benefits for years to come, and contribute to the well-being of the entire region.”

In addition to the competitions planned at the University of Toronto Scarborough, the University of Toronto will also support the 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games on its St. George campus. The University will host the opening and closing Parapan Am ceremonies as well as field hockey, futsal and soccer training and competitions at key facilities such as the world-class Varsity Centre and the upcoming Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport.

by Laura Matthews

© University of Toronto Scarborough