Students living in McGill’s Carrefour Sherbrooke residence are mobilizing against construction projects that have been ongoing since the beginning of the fall semester. The students claim that noise and other resulting disturbances have compromised their living conditions, and have communicated their discontent to McGill Residences and Student Housing.
These complaints primarily concern roof construction. However, Carrefour’s construction projects throughout the academic year have also included renovations to the lobby, front desk, entrance, and cafeteria.
Students living in the former 4 Points hotel described the daily disturbances caused by the various constructions projects.
“There was drilling on the twentieth [floor], and it could be heard down to the 12th floor, although there was drilling on the eleventh, again, that could be heard down to the seventh floor,” said Julie Browne, a Carrefour Sherbrooke resident who is leading the efforts to voice students’ concerns.
“As far as the construction workers are concerned it’s just another job, or, like another site – it’s not a home,” added Madelaine Fromm, another Carrefour Sherbrooke resident. “It’s not even the drilling, [it] is the people in the hallways, and the big machines outside.”
Students and parents expressed their discontent to Michael Porritt, the Executive Director of Residences and Student Housing, through emails and phone calls. Residents claim certain clauses of the lease, specifically regarding the peaceful enjoyment of the premises and the communication of maintenance or repairs, have been breached. Porritt maintained that the construction does not breach the lease.
“Roof work was not originally planned for this academic year,” said Porritt. “We had planned to wait until summer of 2011.”
Porritt explained that engineering estimates had suggested the roof and ventilation system in Carrefour should have been “fine” for the next two years.
“The choice was between fixing problems for eight months and having building-wide discomfort for eight months, or fix the roof earlier than we had planned and have a noise problem for a much shorter time. Neither was a great option,” said Porritt.
In December 2010, the administration responded to complaints by giving each resident $350 in compensation as a token of appreciation for their patience.
“More students have expressed thanks than complaints in regards to the response to work requests and the work that was done in response to the original concerns,” Porritt said, explaining that the construction was in response to residents’ previous complaints.
“The heat problem would have become a cold problem,” said Porritt.
However, residents became more disgruntled as the roof construction continued after January 11. Porritt stated in an email to Carrefour residents in December 2010 that the roof construction would continue in January for ten working days in order to finish the project, and the process would be quieter than demolition of the old roof. Students claim construction has not ended, and that they were not informed in advance about the extended time frame.
Construction in the entrance to Carrefour has also continued past the projected deadline given to residents. The construction was to be completed February 27, however, the project is ongoing.
In a meeting between Porritt and concerned students last night, an agreement was reached to pay more money to residents of the floors affected by the construction. Johann Annisette, a Carrefour resident who attended the meeting, said Porritt was aware of the construction in the entrance going over the estimated end-date, and was trying to fix the situation.