Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Last updated: 2 hours ago

Block Party and Welcome Back BBQ may be in jeopardy due to MacInnes Field construction

Geoff Lister/The Ubyssey

Large gatherings like Block Party and the Welcome Back BBQ may be on shaky ground for the next few years, as UBC starts its next redevelopment project on top of MacInnes Field.

MacInnes Field has been selected to accommodate the construction of a new Aquatic Centre, which is expected to start in May 2013 and finish by February 2015. The location of the current Aquatic Centre will be replaced by a new field (also to be called MacInnes) by June 2016. But this leaves a three-year period in which the centre of campus won’t have a large green space available for large-scale parties and recreational events.

According to AMS President Matt Parson, new green space going in on the north side of the current SUB during the new SUB’s construction could be used for outdoor events. A beer garden held in the same location prior to new SUB construction in March 2011 had about 150 people in attendance, a far cry from the 5000+ present at the most recent Block Party.

“There’s also potential space, not large enough for a Welcome Back BBQ- or Block Party-sized event, on the west side of the SUB, “ said Parson.

He is hopeful that the events will continue again after the new field is available, though. “For the long term, post-construction phase, there are plans for a new MacInnes Field, which can house regular events,” said Parson.

According to Campus Community and Planning (C+CP), MacInnes Field was slated to be the location for the new Aquatic Centre due to its proximity to the heart of campus and the bus loop. The current Aquatic Centre will remain open until the new one is completed, ensuring there will always be a pool on campus open for UBC’s recreational and competitive swimmers alike.

C+CP has cited several reasons for building a new Aquatic Centre. The current centre, opened in 1978, has inefficient mechanical and energy systems, according to C+CP. The new facility will also feature an updated layout.

An advocacy group called Friends of the Aquatic Centre pushed to renovate the current Aquatic Centre rather than build a new one, but their proposal was ultimately dismissed by C+CP.

“The proposal was reviewed by campus planning and administration.… Their alternative proposal [was] deemed relevant but ineffective, cost-wise,” said student Board of Governors rep Mike Silley.

The new facility will feature a competition-length pool, recreational lap pool, leisure pool and family changerooms.

Despite the disruption that this project might cause to campus events, Parson said he sees the potential of the future MacInnes Field. “It’s a similar-sized field, and if anything, it’s closer to the heart of campus,” he said.