Wondering what happened to the new student centre? SAITSA is still working on it

Miss President: SAITSA president Alysson Torres-Gillett, in her office in the Campus Centre at SAIT on Oct. 17, 2018. A recent partnership between SAITSA and SAIT has been formed to advance plans for a new student centre. (Photo by Larissa Morrow/The Press)

Three years after a student referendum that approved the construction of a new student centre, SAITSA is still awaiting approval of funding from the Government of Alberta to move forward.

A new joint committee and partnership between SAIT’s student association and the SAIT Board of Governors has been created, to try to move the project forward, according to SAITSA president Alysson Torres-Gillett.

“It’s a joint effort between us and SAIT now,” Torres-Gillett said in a recent interview.

“Now we have all the right people in the same room,” she said.

As final approval of the student centre rests in government hands, no construction dates have been released.

Torres-Gillett said that she hopes the building is ready by 2022.

“If I had it my way, the building would already be built.”

When the plebiscite was held in 2016, SAITSA indicated that the building was set to be complete in late 2019.

The vote to release the $9 million which had been collected from students over many years for the building project was just part of what was needed to actually get the new structure built.

While SAITSA went ahead with design of the centre, other complications arose, and the final decision to allow the project was always in the hands of the province.

Progress has been slow and the expected completion date has been pushed back more than once. But Torres-Gillett said 2018 has been significant for the project.

“There’s been really big strides that happened this year to move it forward.”

And more progress is expected next year, she said.

“We are hoping to do a really large announcement in January in regards to the building,” Torres-Gillett said, adding that the centre’s future will return to where it all began: With the students.

Until then, SAITSA is keeping detailed information about its plans to itself, and avoiding promises that potentially can’t be kept.

If I had it my way, the building would already be built. – Alysson Torres-Gillett

The announcement date is contingent on the timing of the funding approvals from the government.

“As frustrating as it is to watch something happen and be talked about over and over again, unfortunately, bureaucracy can get in the way of things going quickly.”

“In the end, this is all for students, and it’s to better SAIT for students.”

As outlined on SAITSA’s new student centre webpage, http://www.saitsahq.com  , the sgtructure would be connected to the Campus Centre, at the southeast corner of the existing building.

It would offer “an on-campus destination that fosters the value of community,” the webpage says.

The space’s design and layout have not been confirmed, but suggestions have included a new Gateway location, retail outlets, and expanded student study and relaxation areas.

“This is for the greater good of the school,” Torres-Gillett said.

About Larissa Morrow 2 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Larissa Morrow is working as a writer for The Press during the 2018-19 academic year.