MacEwan University hosted Alberta Premier Danielle Smith and Advanced Education Minister Rajan Sawhney on Monday to announce progress on the new business building. It was the school’s first visit from a premier since Ed Stelmach came in 2009 — the year Grant MacEwan College became MacEwan University.
In February, the provincial government pledged to provide $125 million over four years to help fund the business building — a seven-storey tower on the corner of 109 Street and 105 Street. The new space will allow MacEwan to welcome an additional 7,500 students to its downtown campus.
During the event, Craig Monk, MacEwan’s provost, announced that preconstruction for the new building is complete, and groundbreaking is expected to happen in early 2024. As downtown Edmonton struggles to recover after the pandemic, a growing MacEwan University could help invigorate the community and the province.
“Having this many young people downtown, hopefully also living downtown and staying downtown before and after classes, will be able to help bring vibrance into the community,” Smith said during the event.
“They want to see something similar in downtown Calgary, so I think this is a testament to the beautiful campus environment that MacEwan has created — that other cities are looking to emulate it,” the premier added.
A mix of government officials, staff, and MacEwan representatives were in attendance for the event, which took place in the middle of the John L. Haar library. Many students who walked by were surprised to learn the premier was on campus.
“That’s pretty cool; I’ve never really seen her before,” one passerby mentioned.
Christian, a computer science student, didn’t know what to make of it. “I’m not really in the loop; I’m just as surprised as anyone is. I don’t even know what the event is for. I’ve heard rumours that MacEwan is planning on building another business building somewhere,” he said.
When asked about his thoughts on the premier’s visit, Christian added, “As a student, it doesn’t really affect me. I just have classes to do. I have projects and midterms. But, as a citizen of Alberta, I’ll probably listen to her thoughts, criticize her on what she says and her plans for MacEwan, and probably the province as well.”
Among the attendees were also the student representatives Stephan Vasquez, SAMU’s VP Academic and Joseph A. La Torre, SAMU’s VP of Governance and Finance.
“MacEwan’s [a] growing campus, so we have to make sure that we’re advocating for the needs of students, and MacEwan is a very compact campus, so we need to make sure there’s some space for students,” Vasquez said “That includes a new business building.”
When asked about the premier’s visit, Vasquez said it was “fascinating” and that they feel lucky to be developing these relationships to ensure better student advocacy.