Summary of the Town Hall Presentation

Published: 14 March 2023

In case you were not able to attend today’s Town Hall, I am sharing some information from the presentation I gave today.

Before moving into a summary of the presentation, I want to acknowledge the uncertainty and disruption caused by the closures. We have taken the first step along the path in re-opening Barton and most of the Macdonald-Stewart closures, but we recognize that work remains. As we re-open, our focus is on the health and safety of everyone who uses the buildings.

Return to in-person learning and research

Except for classes scheduled in the Raymond building (classroom numbers beginning with R in the Octagon), all classroom teaching can move back to in-person teaching. If in doubt, students should contact the instructor. Teaching laboratories are open in Macdonald-Stewart.

Flex space will be available for students to take remote classes. Many instructors will open a Zoom connection for in-person classes, though online delivery cannot be guaranteed.

If you are a student, I would like to remind you that McGill has academic support available. Your instructor or teaching assistant can assist you, and Student Services’ Peer Support program is extremely popular with students. A busy program of in-person events for students is scheduled from March 18th onwards.

Addressing graduate student concerns about time to completion

Graduate students whose time to completion of their degree is affected by the closure should be reassured that financial support will be available.

The Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies is mobilized to ensure that we can deploy supplemental funding for cases related to such issues.

If you are in such a position, please start the process by talking to Jean-Benoît Charron, the Associate Dean (Graduate Education) for FAES.

Ramping up safety

As we work towards a complete re-opening of the Macdonald-Stewart, Barton and Raymond buildings, our primary concern is ensuring that the buildings are safe and that the Mac community feels safe. To this end, the Emergency Operations Centre and the Facilities Management and Ancillary Services unit have devised a plan to add multiple layers of protection within the Macdonald-Stewart, Barton and Raymond buildings, including the construction site.

In Macdonald-Stewart and Barton

In the Macdonald-Stewart and Barton Buildings, weekly air tests will be conducted in more than 35 locations throughout both buildings. As well, visual inspection of facilities will be ramped up.

In Raymond

The construction site has now been sealed completely to isolate it from spaces occupied by McGill faculty, students and staff. Increased inspections of the site by environmental consultants will ensure the seals are maintained. The inspections will also check that any asbestos-containing materials are fully encapsulated so that fibres cannot become airborne.

As well, a full-time Construction Health and Safety Officer is being added to the construction site, and once work resumes, weekly air tests will be conducted in McGill-occupied space near the sealed opening to the construction site.

As we receive additional information, whether through the Internal Audit investigation announced today or other means, the plan for these protections will be revisited.

Process for reporting concerns

As mentioned in yesterday’s message, if you have concerns about situations such as dust that was not present the day before or damaged building materials, you should call the Facilities Call Centre (FCC) at (514) 398-4555. The Facilities Call Centre is your one-stop shop to report problems.

Improved service from Facilities Management and Ancillary Services (FMAS) teams

FMAS is improving its processes to increase coordination among the different teams that serve building users at Mac. If you report a concern to the Facilities Call Centre, new processes are in place to coordinate any needed intervention. A new group with representation from various FMAS teams will coordinate any new work (repairs, renovations, etc) where materials may contain asbestos, including communications about the work.

Investigation underway

As you may have seen in the message from McGill’s Interim Principal, Christopher Manfredi, McGill’s Internal Audit team has launched an investigation to:

  • Understand the events and decisions that led to the detection of asbestos in the Raymond, Macdonald-Stewart and Barton buildings
  • Assess McGill’s asbestos management and project management processes
  • Make recommendations as to whether these protocols should be strengthened

The report will be submitted directly to Principal-Designate Deep Saini and Maryse Bertrand, the Chair of McGill’s Board of Governors by the end of April and will be made public. A Town Hall will be held to present the findings to the Macdonald Campus community, hear concerns and answer questions. If significant, serious questions remain unanswered following the initial investigation, the University will look into further ways to gather the information.

Next steps in re-opening

Macdonald-Stewart and Barton

Cleaning is underway in the 25 closed rooms in Macdonald-Stewart and Barton where dust samples tested positive, and good progress is being made.

A section of the first floor of the Macdonald-Stewart building, where research laboratories and offices of the Departments of Food Science and Bioresource Engineering is closed. (A map of the area is available.)

Unfortunately, equipment and temporary structures (related to the cleaning under asbestos safety protocols) limited access in certain corridors. The equipment and structures in the corridors must be removed before we can ensure safe transit through them in the event of an emergency. The corridors will open as the firm doing the cleaning completes its work. Note that teaching labs in the basement are open.


As mentioned in Friday’s message, all dust samples collected in the McGill-occupied Octagon (which contain the large classrooms whose numbers begin with R) and in the Phytorium (a research facility) in the Raymond building have tested negative.

I know that people are very eager to know timelines to re-open the McGill-occupied areas of Raymond. However, because of the Octagon’s proximity to the construction site, re-opening is somewhat more complicated than re-opening the Macdonald-Stewart and Barton buildings. Please bear with us as we develop a realistic timeframe for the re-opening.

It has been a very long haul, I know, but we are making progress. I am delighted to see teaching and research resuming in most spaces in Macdonald-Stewart and Barton. I hope that you find the information provided at the Town Hall and in this email useful and reassuring.


Message from Fabrice Labeau, Co-Acting Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) and planning chief for the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) on behalf of the EOC

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