Building cost up $1.7 million; fundraising $1.4 million short

Matt Howe (3L) | Photographs by Trevor Snider (2.5L)

At the October 7 Faculty Council meeting, Dean Iacobucci provided an update on the Faculty’s new home—the Jackman Law Building. Students have likely noticed that substantial progress is being made on the exterior, after a long period of slow, if non-existent, progress, and the Dean confirmed that construction is back on track after last year’s delay.

However, the delay has caused the building budget to balloon even further.

The Business Board of the University of Toronto’s Governing Council releases an annual public report on capital projects. The 2014 capital projects report listed the law building’s “total project cost” as $54.6 million, an increase of $600,000 over the originally planned cost. The 2015 capital projects report, published on March 31, 2015, now lists the total project cost as “in camera data.”

We asked the Faculty’s Chief Administrative Officer, Paul Handley, for an update on the building. He revealed that the budget for the building project has increased by $1.7 million since 2014, to $56.3 million. It is unclear why the Governing Council’s most recent report does not disclose this.

The reason for the increase is the construction delay caused by the Faculty’s failure to secure a necessary tree removal permit in a timely fashion, which set the project back by six months.

Handley explained that Governing Council approved an additional $1.7 million in funding to the Faculty of Law to cover this increased cost.

It was also revealed at Faculty Council that funding for the new building has not been completed, because of both unfulfilled pledges and a gap between pledged funds and the Faculty’s portion of the building cost. Handley confirmed that the Faculty is $1.4 million short of its $36 million fundraising goal.

This shortfall will be addressed through additional fundraising, which will take priority over other fundraising efforts—including for financial aid—until completed. No indication was given as to when this fundraising is expected to be complete.

As for the building completion timeline, Dean Iacobucci provided more specifics as to the transition process. Although the Class of 2016 had been promised repeatedly before enrolling, and during their first year, that the building would be complete for their third year (2015-2016), Iacobucci confirmed that no-one will attend class in the Jackman Law Building this year.

The last direct communication to students had come through an email from interim Dean Jutta Brunnée in September, 2014, which stated the building would be substantially completed in February, 2016. That message did not state whether classes would be moved at that time.

The Faculty expects an Occupancy Permit in February, 2016. However, classes will not be moved at that time in order to minimize disruptions mid-semester. This will also allow more time for the Faculty to complete the “Fit, Finishes, and Extras” stage, where furniture and audio-visual equipment is installed and tested. Instead, classrooms and offices will move during summer 2016. The building will be fully operational by September, 2016.

There is some small solace for graduating students, however. Once the Occupancy Permit is granted, the Faculty will focus on moving the Bora Laskin Law Library into its new home and readying the space for students. The plan is to have the Library open for studying by late February or early March, in time for students prepping for April exams.

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