Governments grant $40M to build MRC Conservatory
The Alberta government has pledged $20 million towards the construction of the $60 million “state-of-the-art” Mount Royal Conservatory of Music and the federal government is willing to kick in the same amount if the City of Calgary participates as well.
These announcements — made during a news conference Tuesday morning at the college — come as part of the federal government’s $45-billion commitment to rebuild and improve infrastructure in Canada. The college already received more than $17 million in May to upgrade facilities around the campus, most notably in the nursing and science departments, through this initiative.
For more on the nursing and science department upgrades click here
“If we are looking at how ourselves and the province and the city are working together, we’re really seeing investments in our cultural community that are unparelleled,” said federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice. “What this speaks to really is the importance of culture, the importance of our educational and our cultural infrastructure.”
Building construction to reduce parking stalls
The massive facility — which will include a 650-seat performance hall and approximately 82 studios — will be constructed on the current S1 parking lot that runs alongside the college’s east residence. This comes on the heels of fall parking permits selling out in record time last week, roughly two months faster than last year.
“Parking is going to be a challenge. In the short run, we will solve it with the new parkade ready for (2010-11 school year) but the long term solution — there’s only one — is for less people to drive to campus,” MRC President Dave Marshall said, noting that underground parking will be included in the design of the conservatory. Construction of the parkade reduced the number of available fall parking passes by 1,500.
For more on the parking pass sell out click here
Last year a number of students chose to park in the college’s surrounding community after being unable to find a stall or acquire a permit.
“If that continues the city will get involved and there will be tons of tickets and tons of tows,” Marshall said. “My message to everybody, even those that have parking passes, is find alternative ways to get to campus because this is not going to go away and to a certain degree I am not going to apologize for it.”
During a follow up inquiry after Tuesday morning’s announcement, The Reflector learned that the president himself often chooses to walk to campus, in hopes of setting an example for students and staff alike.
“I’ve said that the ultimate solution may be for fewer people to drive their cars to campus, and we have a variety of programs in place to encourage this, but I do appreciate that the reality of where the Mount Royal campus is situated, it is not always possible or practical for students or employees including the executives — to walk, cycle, or take transit,” Marshall said.
Conservatory tied to college’s history
As the college approaches its centennial in December, the conservatory will continue to hold symbolic significance as it has been around since Mount Royal College was originally founded, Marshall said.
“It’s taken 100 years to give it it’s own building but now the conservatory — the music programs for thousands of people — will have a home and that’s important for Mount Royal but it’s even more important for the community,” he said.
The current conservatory has approximately 5,000 students under the age of 18 enrolled. Acting conservatory director Sheldon Nadler said capacity at the new facility will increase by 50 percent.
:The conservatory highlights the very best of Calgary — the entrepreneurial drive, the passion for excellence, the desire to make this city a wonderful place to live and work,” Nadler said, noting that a medium-sized concert hall has been a widely recognized need in the Calgary arts community for a number of years.
Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach was also on hand Tuesday to announce the province’s $20-million pledge for the project.
“This is an investment for today, it is also an investment for tomorrow to ensure that dreams continued to be realized here at Mount Royal” Stelmach said. “Collectively our support and passion for arts and culture can help build the society that sustains the individual, social and economic well-being of the province.”
Prentice said the City of Calgary will be reviewing the economic flow of the project in the near future. Construction of the conservatory could begin as early as next spring.