Alumni Live 365 Guest Blog: Dr. Jim Nicell discusses sustainability on campus (Part 2)

Alumni Live 365 Guest Blog: Dr. Jim Nicell discusses sustainability on campus (Part 2)

It is very clear that people from all across McGill – our students, staff, and alumni – want to join in and help us achieve our vision of becoming a sustainable institution.  Very excitingly, as of January 2010, we have launched into a new process to support sustainability projects at our institution. That is, in the fall of 2009, students from across McGill voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new fee of $0.50 per credit of coursework in support of a Sustainability Projects Fund.  For an average student, this represents a commitment of approximately $15 per year.  This generous contribution must be matched by the University from other sources of funds (e.g., donations or capital funding). As a result, we have a 3-year commitment for approximately $800,000 per year in support of sustainability projects. 

Applications for funding will be accepted from any member of the community who has an idea and is ready and willing to carry it through.  The intent is that McGill can explore new ideas, try them on a smaller scale and, if successful, broaden the initiatives to the whole campus.  The proposed projects will not only be judged in terms of how they will enhance the sustainability of our institution but, just as importantly, how they will contribute to the creation of a culture of sustainability at McGill.  

I also want to take this opportunity to let you know about the very tangible projects that will be realized over the coming months.  For example, following the recent completion of the reconstruction of a major service tunnel adjacent to the Milton Gates, we will enhance the open space by putting in place a sculpture garden.

Sculpture Garden

Sculpture garden, scheduled for completion in May, 2010.

At the same time, we will be eliminating parking just south of the Arts building, all the way to the Roddick Gates, thereby minimizing vehicle traffic, enhancing the green space on the downtown campus, and turning the main campus into a pedestrian priority zone.

Pedestrian priority lower campus

Pedestrian priority lower campus, planned for the beginning of summer 2010.


City bike path to be finalized in the late spring

reconfiguration of Stewart Bio

Planned reconfiguration and greening of the Stewart Biology Terrace

A bike path that extends down University Street will also be finalized by the City of Montreal at that time.  We are also planning a series of projects to renovate and green a variety of important terraces in various locations around the campus including the Stewart Biology Terrace, as well as terraces adjacent to the Redpath Library and the Leacock Building.

These are very exciting projects that will transform the way the people move in and around our campus and reflect an exceptional and growing commitment on the part of McGill to sustainability.  Many other projects are on the way.

Of course, to make these and other sustainability projects possible, we are relying on the support and involvement of all our students, professors, staff and alumni. For more information about sustainability activities at McGill and for ideas on what you can do, please visit the Office of Sustainability website.  If you want to let us know about your ideas, suggestions or even tell us how you are making personal choices to support McGill’s sustainability efforts, please write to

If you are able and interested in supporting sustainability at McGill, donations can be made here.


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