Maintaining a campus

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Carolyn Turgeon
Associate News Editor

Ryerson dishes out $11 million each year to sustain itself, but the cash isn’t for scholarships or athletics. It’s used to fix your doorknobs.

The maintenance budget may seem like a hefty amount to a student, but in reality it isn’t enough to maintain a university.

Campus planning is allotted $3.5 million of the budget for maintenance, while the remaining $7.5 million covers all other campus maintenance, custodial and groundskeeping costs.

With all that money being dropped, you’d assume campus is up to date on all of its maintaining, right? Not quite.

Like most Canadian universities, Ryerson has a backlog, meaning there’s work to be done and orders to be filled, all of which have been building up over time.

The Canadian Association of University Business Officers estimated in 2009 that universities had deferred maintenance of more than $5 billion from more than decade of delays, $2.4 billion of which were marked urgent.

Understandably, there’s always something to fix and older buildings, like Kerr Hall and Jorgenson Hall, continue to show their age.

Sheldon Levy, Ryerson president, said, “You end up increasing the amount of different types of maintenance by [the] age of the fiscal plan.”

Then why is minimal progress all we have to show for the money being put into our campus?

We haven’t killed these backlogs, so the list of things to fix just keeps growing, no matter how much holiday work is done.

This summer, 11 renovations took place to improve labs, studios, offices and meeting rooms.

“Every year, in the budget, we allocate funds for maintenance and retrofits normally to be completed in summer months,” said Levy.

The renovations were in Kerr Hall, Eric Palin Hall, the Architecture building, Podium, the Theatre School and the reformed Image Arts building, whose fabric and cooling system from its original structure proved too old and in need of replacement.

There goes more money.

The federal budget in 2009 included a $2 billion investment for the infrastructure of post-secondary schools. The money was for repairs and construction in all universities and colleges across the country. Not much for us to share, and not enough to get rid of the urgent backlogs if the earlier estimation was accurate.

So where’d all the money go?

The shared funds couldn’t have put a big dent in our ever present backlogs, and even without federal help there’s loads of work left.

This is why over the next couple of weeks, we will continue to investigate campus maintenance.

First, we’ll look at the Student Campus Centre, six years old but already requiring heavy maintenance.

The following week will focus on Kerr Hall and how retrofitting a 48-year-old building is costing the university money they never expected to spend.


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