This case study examines the governance, accountability, and transparency in the approvals process of the 90 Queen’s Park capital project at the University of Toronto (U of T). This capital project, which will have a stark golden exterior, is heralded by the university as the new “gateway to campus” and will be the future home of the Centre for Civilizations, Cultures, and Cities. Although the university affirms that the project’s consultation process went beyond legal requirements and several changes to the plans were made based on feedback, there has been much public opposition to the project. In fall 2020, this push-back resulted in a pause in approvals at the City of Toronto, where councillors have required a review of the “cultural heritage landscape” before going forward. We found that information on the consultation process, feedback, and approvals process was easier to identify in city documents than through university governance systems. For instance, the financial approvals for the capital project were made “in camera” at all levels of university governing council. This case study is part of broader interest in accountability and transparency in capital project development at the university, and we conclude by inviting contributions and reflections from other units and universities.
Authors: Miriam Hird-Younger, Mariana Valverde