Infrastructure woes continue at U of R
University administration criticized for maintenance backlog, new construction
Over the past week, University of Regina administration has come under fire over the amount of deferred maintenance on campus, and claims of unwise spending.
The current bill for deferred maintenance comes to $307 million, or $121/gross square foot. According to a report by the Canadian Association of University Business Officers, the national average is only $42/gross square foot.
According to the U of R’s own Operations Forecast for 2015-2016, it is “increasingly difficult to address critical needs on the University’s campuses. The University’s facilities are showing increasing levels of deterioration as inflation outpaces the increases in funding required to address these needs. As demonstrated by the 2012 facility condition assessment that focused on roofing, 23 per cent of University roofs are failing, with over 60 roof leaks occurring in locations that cannot be repaired without full replacement.”
Despite their daunting maintenance backlog, the University has been investing in large, new, construction projects such as their newly opened residence towers ($83 million) and the north gate sign ($300 thousand). In a recent CBC article, Deputy Minister of Advanced Education Louise Greenberg criticized University spending, but pointed out that the project was completed without the use of government funds.
In a statement to the Carillon, a U of R spokesperson said, “[w]hile the University respects the rights of those in the article to express their concerns, we do not agree with their assessments of the two projects in question. We are committed to making the University safer, more accessible and more inviting to students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus. We are confident that the investments in the North Gateway project and the new residence serve this purpose.”
Dr. Dennis Fitzpatrick, chair of the U of R’s Faculty Association, expressed growing concern over the state of campus infrastructure, and its impacts on teaching.
“The obvious signs of distress are found everywhere… [a] leaking roof allowed water to damage very expensive equipment in Peter Leavitt’s Institute of Environmental Change and Society. So, come to the U of R but don’t forget your rain gear.”
Fitzpatrick also noted that budgetary concerns at the University impact progress as well as maintenance.
“Think of advances in teaching technology – smart board, interactive classroom experiences, and a whole new generation of information technology. These are teaching opportunities lost and a large part of the infrastructure deficit that needs to be addressed.”