The University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union is set to make big changes to students’ campus watering-hole this spring, after a contentious motion passed in a University Students’ Council meeting on Jan. 26.
With the proposed Louis’ Pub renovations, known as Louis’ Refresh, the USSU hopes to address safety concerns, as well as improve the functionality and appeal of the space. Working with a major development company in Saskatoon, Strata Development, the USSU aims to complete work over the month of May. With a budget set at $463,000, accountability and transparency are focal issues for council members and USSU Senior Management while moving forward.
David D’Eon, a council member from the College of Arts and Science, sees the Louis’ Refresh project as a complete effort that will address multiple areas of concern at once.
“There’s two different aspects to the renovations, part of them being that we need to bring the building back up to code, [as] there have been no renovations since 2000, and the other part of it is that, since we’re renovating it, is to give it a bit of a facelift,” D’Eon said.
Money for this project will come from the USSU, which receives most of its funding from student fees, advertising and sales revenue. Emmanauel Barker, USSU vice-president operations and finance, explains that although the project was not brought to the USC upon initiation, he has been discussing the plan with administration since May 2016.
The initial budget for this project was determined by Strata Development, a university approved contracting and design firm owned in Saskatoon. Their quote was $363,000, and an additional $100,000 was approved by the USC during the meeting held on Jan. 26.
“We decided to ask [Strata] for a quote because of their great portfolio of past projects, … which are stylistically and practically very comparable to the Louis’ Refresh,” Barker said, in an email to the Sheaf.
D’Eon believes that the budget increase approved by the USC was a positive choice.
“I think that was a really good move and a really smart move, because now we can look at things like including furniture in the renovations to give it a more complete feel and also pursuing more sustainable renovations, putting more money into more efficient, long term features,” D’Eon said.
Despite this positive assertion, opinions of council members regarding the plans are divisive. Andriy Prokopchuk, who represents the College of Education, explains that voting to approve the project’s budget felt hasty.
“I didn’t feel comfortable voting on the motion based on the fact that it is a very large sum of money. I felt like I didn’t have enough time to review the information and I felt like it wouldn’t be responsible of me as a councillor if I didn’t bring that back to my college,” Prokopchuk said.
The primary concern for Prokopchuk and other USC councillors regards USSU Senior Management and the process by which the project was approved.
“I do wish that in the planning development there would have been more transparency and more of a conversation between administration and [the USC] when the planning actually began up until the point where we voted on the motion,” Prokopchuk said.
According to Barker, there are few provisions allotted for Louis’ Pub employees during the slated time of closure, meaning some might be expecting smaller paychecks.
“Our management staff will be training on the new point of sale system. We will have as many employees in [Louis’] Loft as possible. Some plan to take vacation days and some of our part-time people will be taking time off,” Barker said.
He explains that the timeline for Louis’ Refresh is tentative, but he states that the USSU aims to cause as little inconvenience as possible for students and employees.
“It is our intention to close Louis’ for as short a time as absolutely possible — hopefully in the ballpark of a month on or around May 2017.”
Photo: Jeremy Britz / Photo Editor