By the year 2022, the landscape of COC’s Canyon Country campus will have undergone a major facelift.

Available on the official school website, the Facilities Master Plan details all the new blueprints for construction over the next several years. From the network of campus gardens, to the outdoor amphitheater equipped with a large screen for outdoor movie nights, the new campus will surely be an upgrade and a wonderful gathering place for students and those in the surrounding community.

“This master plan strives to serve as a blueprint for the development and maintenance of the highest-quality physical environment at each of the campuses,” the mission statement reads. “Environments specifically designed to reflect and support the College’s extraordinary commitment to creating enduring, learner-centered experiences and active learning environments.”

So what’s the reason for all this construction?

“Eight lab classrooms are currently being built in Canyon Country,” COC PIO Eric Harnish stated. “Classes that fill up fastest and are facility specific,” have increasingly become less available for the growing student body.

Courses like chemistry and biology require labs to work from, which means they cannot be relocated to other classrooms and cannot accept additional students when the class is at capacity. This is why they are the ones at COC that most commonly have had the longest wait lists in recent years. These new labs and classrooms will open up the heavily wait listed classes to students who possibly register late, but need the credits and cannot wait until the following semester to enroll.

In doing so, registration is expected to become a much easier process than in past semesters. Since these are classes that must be taken by all students as a GE at minimum, the new additions will be extremely important to help accommodate a growing student body.

Accompanying the science labs on the Canyon Country Campus will be a Central Energy Plant, which is a 4,168 square-foot facility that will serve to heat and cool all the buildings on campus. Its 5,864 square-foot roof will also double as a “living wall” which will house an outdoor research garden and greenhouse used for new school programs in support of COC’s new biodiversity initiative.

This initiative will be a new program that COC plans to implement through the Central Energy Plant in Canyon Country and planting native chaparral biomes in the natural buffer zone between COC’s Valencia Campus and the Interstate 5 Highway.

According to the Facilities Master Plan, on the Valencia Campus, the “addition to the continuing role the natural buffer zone serves, i.e. traffic noise attenuation and visual boundary, the chaparral natural area provides protection against erosion and a habitat for an interesting assortment of animals. As technology and city-centered lifestyles continue to create greater distance between us and the natural world, chaparral provides a way for Californians to remember the value of wildness.” Eventually, “the slope could be conceived as a test garden for native plants, which if successful, can become part of the ‘palette of plants’ for other functioning landscape areas on campus,” alongside the already existing vineyard.

The construction is a long and costly project, however; as a community college, the funding for this $32 million endeavor is coming from the state of California.

In order to garnish the necessary funds to undertake these extensive projects, the school “must have demonstrated need for construction,” Harnish says. As a state funded school, in order to put through an agreement that outlines the cost, size, and time frame of the construction, COC must first establish the reasons for why this construction is needed. The developments in the Facilities Master Plan will have to appease the additions in the Educational Master Plan, which is also available on COC’s Public Information Office website. Because of the growing student body, quick filling classes, development of new programs and facility specific classes, COC meets all prerequisites necessary to receive the funding.

Construction is expected to take between four and five years, and will completely transform COC as a whole.

A new University Center Gateway, North and South Commons and Bonelli Hall Promenade, are among some of the other amenities planned for the Valencia Campus as well.

However, the Canyon County Campus remodeling and parking garage in Valencia are the first of the expansion projects that COC will undergo, since they are the most immediate necessities. The other, more opulent campus projects will soon follow.

Current students have already begun to experience a big improvement in the parking availability since the addition of 200 student parking spaces at the beginning of the Fall 2018 semester.

The 1,659-space parking lot on the Valencia Campus is targeted to open for the Spring 2019 semester in February, and is supposed to further ease the parking challenge that so many students have complained about in the past.

The new and refined campuses that COC will have to offer within the next five years will certainly attract an even larger student population in the coming years as well.

Some COC students have already expressed their interest in the new facilities.

“It’s crazy to think there’s so much going on that many students, including myself, weren’t even aware of, Twni Tucker, a first year student said. “I think more students are going to want to take advantage of the new facilities when they’re done. It’s great that more students are starting to become aware of this now, so that they can take classes in the new buildings when they are done. Even though I haven’t been here that long, I definitely have noticed that the Canyon Country Campus and Valencia Campus are very separate, and I assume most students, like me, take all their classes at either campus. But I think the new facilities will encourage students to experience COC from both campuses.”

With the new construction of classrooms and general gathering areas on both COC’s campuses, the culture on and between these campuses is likely to change with it. The tight knit community that COC has been able to foster on the Valencia Campus is sure to only grow and spread to Canyon Country, as the campuses themselves do. The many different communities and fields of interest that the new facilities will be able to cater to will make COC an even more diverse place than it is now.

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