MUN faces urgent building repairs amid severe budget crunch

Memorial University needs to make critical fixes to its aging infrastructure, but the provincial government has provided no money this year for deferred maintenance.
Crumbling infrastructure at Memorial University is approaching a critical point with very little money to fix it 1:26

Officials at Memorial University are worried about how they will make urgent infrastructure repairs with practically no funding for deferred maintenance.

"It is one of my biggest concerns right now," said Kent Decker, MUN's vice-president of finance.

"It's a balancing act to balance off the risk of having to close parts the university down if we don't do necessary repairs."

In a recent senate meeting, MUN announced that government provided no money for MUN's deferred maintenance in its 2015 budget, cutting off the $10 million that was already insufficient. More than half of MUN's infrastructure is more than 40 years old, and some key buildings were built in the early 1960s when the main campus was constructed. 

However, MUN officials said that despite the lack of funding, there are some repairs they simply cannot afford to put off.

If we look at the walkways over the parkway, they're at the condition where if we leave them the windows could actually blow out if we leave them much longer.Kent Decker, MUN's vice-president (finance)

"If we look at the walkways over the parkway, they're at the condition where if we leave them the windows could actually blow out if we leave them much longer," said Decker.

"So we have to take those down rather than have the windows blow out and have the university shut the Parkway down for a couple of weeks."

Decker says the university also needs to make urgent repairs to a leaking boiler in the Health Science Centre.

In the coming weeks, the school will have to make tough decisions about which repairs need to be done, and which will have to wait.

Difficult choices for MUN

"That's going to be a real challenge for us," he said.

Kent Decker, MUN's vice-president of finance, said that if the university does not make urgent repairs there could be dire consequences. (CBC)

"How do we identify what absolutely needs to be done in order to preserve safety and address some of those issues, while still operating the university?"

In a recent report, the auditor general found that MUN needs $144.8 million to address urgent deferred maintenance over the next five years.

More than a quarter of the university's critical deferred maintenance items were overdue by at least eight months.

In 2013 the university requested $30.2 million from the provincial government to address its priority maintenance issues, but only received a third of the requested amount. MUN is now facing over $40 million in provincial government cuts.

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