By Amit Shilton
Ryerson’s buildings are falling apart and the government is only doling out enough money for some of the repairs.
Despite having $81 million in outstanding maintenance costs, the university received less than its fair share when the government handed out $200 million to Ontario colleges and universities on Jan. 29. The money, which came out of the $1.4 billion infrastructure fund established in the fall economic statement, was allocated to repair old buildings, increase energy efficiency and improve campus security.
Ryerson was handed just $6.8 million, covering 8.4 per cent of its repair costs.
The University of Toronto had 9.3 per cent of their maintenance costs covered while York University had a whopping 22.1 per cent of their costs covered.
Eight of Ryerson’s buildings are listed in poor condition, according to the Ontario Universities’ Facilities Condition Assessment Program released in March 2007 by the Council of Ontario Universities.
Five are in fair condition and 11 are in excellent condition. Decisions on how much each university receives were based on physical size of the campus, not specific maintenance needs.
Colleges were allocated money based on enrollment figures. “It was based on space,” said government spokesperson Kevin Dove. “It was up to the institutions themselves how they allocate funding.”
Ian Hamilton, Ryerson’s director of campus planning, said that although he would always like more money, the allocation process is as fair as can be. “It is what it is,” he said. “There’s a formula based on maintenance.”
The report considers Ryerson’s 24 buildings in almost poor condition. The state of a university’s buildings are measured by a facilities conditions index (FCI).
A university’s FCI is determined by dividing the maintenance costs by the cost of replacing all of the campus’s buildings.
A value between five and 10 per cent means a university is in fair condition, while a value below five per cent is good and one above 10 per cent is poor. Ryerson’s FCI stands at nine per cent.
The replacement value of all buildings is around $722 million. “We would obviously like to have the FCI as low as possible,” Hamilton said. “I think we’re very close to the sector average.”
President Sheldon Levy said that even though none of the money has been allocated yet, he expects a good chunk to be used to improve accessibility on campus.
“There will be a sizable amount that we will continue to improve campus access for students,” he said. Hamilton said his department has a priority system on spending the government money.
A building’s health and safety standards are the first priority followed by its legislative compliance, ability to support a program, efficiency and aesthetic.