Brian Decker & Sam Colbert
Executive Editor & Managing Editor
The Phoenix will not be moving to the Refectory until well into the summer break.
The move, which was originally planned to take place over the past Christmas break, had already been delayed until some time after Reading Week. Now, new circumstances are postponing the move once again.
The major complications stem from the process of completing major construction projects without disturbing the business of Bridges Cafe, the Refectory’s other tenant.
“We needed to go through the basement of Bridges. There was no way to do this construction without Bridges closing in April,” said Graduate Students Association (GSA) president Jessica Merolli. “This is why we decided to do the project in two phases.”
The original plan included major construction taking place while Bridges was closed for the winter break, but an undiscovered pipe in the kitchen area delayed the project.
“We had delays that were not unexpected. We hope for the best, but things happen,” said Merolli, who added that the latest Bridges construction complication included the additional movement of the GSA offices from Wentworth House to the Refectory.
One unnamed source, though, came forward with the news that there could be more to the delay than technical problems.
In addition to construction issues, the move may be pushed back by concerns from residents in the area. According to the source, one resident in particular plans on “holding up the liquor license” because of frustrations over the behavior of students who come out of the bar and into Westdale.
“I know that there are some people that, from a community point of view, are looking at it more intensely than others,” said Jay Parlar, president of the Ainslie Wood/Westdale Community Association. “They’ve come to the Board, asking the Board for support for what they’re doing, and we can’t.”
The Association has, in the past, taken issue with students coming out of campus bars, particular TwelvEighty (or Quarters, as it was formerly known), and causing damage or noise in surrounding neighbourhoods.
“The official stance of the Association is that we’ve got no problem with this,” said Parlar of the Phoenix move. He explained that, in his experience, it generally hasn’t been Phoenix partons that have caused problems.
The “Decision to delay the move is because of construction,” asserted Merolli in response to questions about delays caused by displeased local residents.
“There are no exceptional circumstances going on here,” said Peter Self, assistant dean of graduate student life and research training. He did, though, acknowledge the tribunal process. “This is a normal process that happens when establishments are trying to get a liquor license.”
Self explained that, with the move being pushed back further and further, it made sense just to move the bar and GSA offices at the same time. Construction of the offices would disrupt the operations of Bridges Café, and needs to wait until the summer, when Bridges is closed.
“It was never a great option that the GSA wasn’t going to be there on location. The whole premise began with ‘everyone move at once,’” said Self.
As for whether the tribunal was responsible for delaying the move, Self said, “If the place isn’t ready, you can’t open it anyway.”
He expects that the tribunal will be complete and the Phoenix will have its license by the time it re-opens over the summer. “If you have total hindsight, would you start [to acquire a liquor license] earlier? Maybe. But the reality is that it should be in place by the time it’s open anyway.”
“The moving and delays truly reflect the fact that we are doing it in the right way,” said Merolli. “We don’t want to do anything that denies that project. We don’t want to delay the process, but ultimately, it is the right thing to do.”
With files from Kacper Niburski