Students will notice this semester that major changes are underway for food options on Burnaby campus. SFU has closed Triple O’s on the second floor of the Academic Quadrangle (AQ) and will be replacing it with an in-house restaurant called Bistro Grille. The Tim Hortons Express located in West Mall Centre has also been permanently shut down.

Mark McLaughlin, director of SFU Ancillary Services, told The Peak that SFU will be closing Tim Hortons in a year if the company does not agree to provide fair trade options to students.

The changes are part of a long-term vision for dining services that will see nearly the entire AQ second floor and Tim Hortons space renovated with new restaurants introduced.

“Over the next few years, there will be construction, some interruptions,” said McLaughlin, noting that the renovations will be completed in stages. “We’re really trying to create great spaces for students.”

As renovations to the AQ are expected to start in a year, SFU decided to temporarily introduce the Bistro Grille to avoid paying a sizable franchise fee to Triple O’s. “The Triple O’s area, it’s aging and it’s in need of major renovation,” explained McLaughlin.

McLaughlin intends to enhance the seating area around the West Mall Tim Hortons this summer and start the construction of two new food vendors on either side of the area in the fall.

Earlier this year, SFU announced that it was changing food services operators and had awarded a new contract starting May 1 to Sodexo. The union representing cafeteria workers with past food services provider Chartwells, part of Compass Group Canada, reached an agreement with Sodexo guaranteeing that their contracts would be renewed.

The current contract with Tim Hortons will remain in place until the end of the spring semester next year, by which time SFU has demanded that the company adhere to their policy that requires a fair trade option.

“We’re giving ourselves one more year to lobby Tim Hortons to supply [a] fair trade offering on our campuses, and then if they don’t respond, we’ll be closing the Tim Hortons,” explained McLaughlin. “Sometimes somebody has to draw the line. We did it with Starbucks; we said they couldn’t come onto our campus until they had fair trade.”

SFU became a fair trade campus in 2012, and opened the first fair trade Starbucks in Canada in 2013. McLaughlin said that SFU has been asking Tim Hortons to provide just one fair trade coffee option on campus for years, but their requests have been ignored.

“We didn’t think we were asking for much, but [Tim Hortons] didn’t respond,” he noted. It is unclear what would replace the Tim Hortons if the university decided to close the chain.

McLaughlin is hopeful that the changes coming to food services on campus will improve the diversity of options and make the space more functional for students.

“We’ve taken dining to a whole other level,” he said.

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