McMaster will be forced to relocate its Centre for Continuing Education from its 50 Main St. E. outpost after being told by the city that it must vacate the building by 2015.
The space is known for formerly housing the Wentworth County municipal courthouse and will be reclaimed by the City, which will cough up $32-million to renovate a building they had planned to sell for $5.6 million.
The expensive revamp and changing of the guard is necessary because of overcrowding in John Sopinka Courthouse, just down the street.
Lack of space in the courthouse has forced the City to find a new home for provincial offences offices and courtrooms by August 2017 when they have been asked by the province to pack their bags and leave.
After much debate, it was decided that the City would be best off reclaiming the building which McMaster has been leasing for approximately $180,000 per annum since 2000.
“We can stomp our feet about it all we like, but ultimately what I’m hearing is this is the cheapest option,” said Councillor Chad Collins (Ward 5) at a general issues committee meeting Wed. Jan. 22.
Such a move poses an “aggressive timeline” and will affect the 200 staff members and 4000 students who make use of CCE each year, said Gord Arbeau, Director of Public & Community Relations at McMaster.
“Relocating all those components to a new location is a complex move. What we’re trying to do right now is work with the city to gain an understanding as to their timelines and try to put together a process where we can move as quickly as possible,” he said.
Arbeau was quick to point out that university services will not be disrupted as McMaster is close to announcing a new location, pending final negotiations with the city. He could not specify the nature of the building, but was hopeful that the deal could be finalized in a timely fashion.
“As we finalize plans on this new downtown location, we are certain that the University and the city can make arrangements to ensure that the move is handled in an effective and efficient way,” he said.
With neither of the moves being particularly appealing to either party at this moment, Arbeau says that the university is disappointed they didn’t purchase the building when they had the chance.
“Thinking about the future of the building, our preference had been to purchase it. But that offer expired several months ago,” he said.
McMaster is also building an $84-million downtown health campus, which will play host to the City’s Public Health Services as well as the university’s departments of family medicine, and continuing health sciences education.