Student Commons Analysis and Update to Members

Student Commons Analysis and Update to Members

Mathias Memmel |
Sunday April 2nd, 2017
Full Report: Student Commons Analysis and Update to Members


Executive Summary

After decades of discussion, the University of Toronto Student’s Union’s (UTSU) Student Commons project will soon become a reality. First proposed in the 1960s, this facility will finally give downtown University of Toronto students a building to call their own.

  • A 2007 referendum established the Student Commons project, its objectives, and the fee levies that would finance it.
  • The Student Commons Agreement, signed on April 29, 2015, is a contract between the administration and the UTSU. The agreement sets out the details of the building’s renovations, operations, and the financing thereof.
  • $4.6M has been collected from our members through the Capital Cost Levy. This levy is being used to plan and finance the renovations as well as pay the annual License Fee and will continue to be collected for 25 years after the building opens, as stipulated in the referendum establishing the fee.
  • During the eight-year difference between the beginning of the Capital Cost Levy and the issuing of tenders, despite increases in the Capital Cost Levy, the effective capital available to renovate the space has decreased through factors such as inflation and increasingly unfavourable exchange rates.
  • Once the building is occupied by UTSU, projections indicate that over the next 10 years, the UTSU will lose $2,344,872 despite increasing the operating fees by 10%, year upon year.
  • If the Student Commons runs an operating deficit for any two-year period after the third anniversary of its opening (ie. by end of fiscal year 2022-2023), the University can reclaim the building if deficits persist for an additional 2 years (4 years of consecutive deficits), relieve UTSU of the building’s management, and require the UTSU to vacate the building
  • In the coming weeks, we will introduce the Student Commons Management Committee. The committee will be mandated to provide regular forums to update you on the progress of our planning and for you to give your input on all aspects of the building, such as revenue generating operations, the safe space policy, accessibility policies, and more.

The Student Commons project has non-trivial obstacles to overcome in order to ensure the viability of the project’s long-term operations. However, now that we know what obstacles we need to overcome, we believe operational viability is achievable. With careful analysis, planning, and decision-making going forward, along with a little goodwill on the part of the University, we believe we can find a way to make this project work.
We invite the members to work with us to make it a space that meets your expectations and addresses your needs. Please call (416-978-4911 x240), email (, or visit our offices (12 Hart House Circle) and let us know what you want to see in your Student Commons.