Construction of York’s new Life Sciences Centre gets underway

The blustery wind did little to chill the warm atmosphere yesterday as members of the York community gathered with representatives from the public and private sectors for the official sod-turning ceremony marking the start of construction of the new Life Sciences Centre on the Keele campus.

York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri and Lois Brown, MP for Newmarket-Aurora, were present to celebrate the groundbreaking for the new centre. The project received federal and provincial funding totalling $70 million through the Knowledge Infrastructure Program (KIP) and Ontario’s 2009 Budget.

Above: Officials from the University and the public and private sectors gather with students from York’s Faculty of Health and Faculty of Science & Engineering to celebrate the start of construction of the new Life Sciences Centre

The new 160,000-square-foot building will include classrooms, offices, laboratories and research space to support increased enrolments in high-demand science and health-related disciplines, such as biology, chemistry, biochemistry and kinesiology. Creating spaces for graduate and undergraduate students, the Life Sciences Centre will also house specialized facilities, such as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), X-ray, mass spectrometry and radioisotope laboratories.

Above: An artist’s rendering of the new Life Sciences Centre 

"York University is strengthening its capacity in life sciences and health so that we may better serve our communities and our province," said Shoukri. "This investment in the Life Sciences Building will help give our students the advantage they need to compete and win on the world stage."

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

"Through the renewal of college and university facilities, our researchers will have the tools they need to be global leaders in their fields and pursue world-class excellence," said Brown. "Attracting and retaining workers who drive innovation and growth in the global knowledge economy strengthens Canada’s position as a world leader in science and technology to the benefit of all Canadians."

DSC_0407 by Science & Engineering @ York U.

Above: MP Lois Brown addresses the sod-turning ceremony

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

The program provides economic stimulus and employment by creating local jobs for engineers, architects, tradespeople and technicians. It is also helping to generate the advanced technological infrastructure needed to keep Canada’s research and educational facilities at the forefront of scientific advancement.

Left: From left, Faculty of Health Dean Harvey Skinner and Faculty of Science & Engineering interim Dean Walter Tholen talk about what the new centre will mean to undergraduate and graduate students and researchers

"This joint investment by the provincial and federal government is great news for York University, its students and for the economy. The Life Sciences Centre will create jobs through its construction, support the needs of the growing student population and continue to lure accomplished faculty to the university," said York West MPP Mario Sergio.

The Government of Ontario committed itself in the 2009 budget to investing in infrastructure and has designated $780 million to colleges and universities to modernize facilities and boost long-term research and skills training capacity over the next two years.