Volume 95, Issue 43

Friday, November 16, 2001
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Profs slam television war

Western students must consider fire safety

Run for your lives: the sky is falling!

Taliban predicts 'destruction'

Study: Canadian chicks dig university

News Briefs

Tuition not scaring the kiddies

University buildings crumbling

Smoker of the Week

University buildings crumbling

By Daren Lin
Gazette Staff

The Canadian Senate standing committee on national finance is concerned about the crumbling state of the country's post-secondary educational institutions.

"Because of funding cutbacks from the federal and provincial levels in the last 10 years, universities have deferred their expenditures on maintenance," said Tonu Onu, a committee clerk of the Canadian senate.

Dave Riddell, Western's associate VP-physical plant and capital planning services, said Western has $150 million in deferred maintenance costs.

"If you take facilities over 35-years-old that haven't been properly maintained, [things] are going to get worn out," he said, adding leaky roofs, sewers and boilers needs to be fixed.

Liam Arbuckle, national director for the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, said deferred maintenance costs require $3.6 billion of additional funding in Canadian universities – with $1.2 billion listed as immediately urgent.

Examples of incidents related to deferred maintenance needs include buildings being condemned at the University of Saskatchewan during final exams and a ceiling tile falling on a student's head in the middle of a lecture at McGill, Arbuckle said.

He also cited the case of a biologist who recently left the University of British Columbia because UBC's ventilation system was in such disrepair that it could not keep the temperature her research required.

Riddell said Western recently allocated $6 million in funding for the problem.

One solution in the Senate report asks for the federal government to work with the provinces to stop the accelerating deterioration of physical infrastructure, Onu said.

Arbuckle agreed with this recommendation.

"Universities get their deferred maintenance costs from two sources: students and the government. If the government doesn't help, who's going to pay for these costs?," he asked.

Tanya Cholakov, spokeswoman for Ontario's Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, said Ontario already gave universities $300 million specifically for deferred maintenance last year.

Both levels of government must continue to help, Riddell said, as private corporations are more interested in building new projects than fixing existing structures.

"The Pepsi roof replacement fund isn't a possibility," he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001