Nova Scotia

4 Nova Scotia universities to share one-time funding boost of $105M

Cape Breton University, St. Francis Xavier, Acadia and Universite Sainte-Anne are sharing $105 million in one-time funds this year from the Nova Scotia government, with about $65 million of that for basic infrastructure repairs.

CBU, St. FX, Acadia, Université Sainte-Anne to get $65M designated for infrastructure repairs

Cape Breton University president David Dingwall thanks Nova Scotia government ministers Brian Wong and Brian Comer, seated behind him, after $54 million in funding was announced for CBU. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

The Nova Scotia government is boosting spending on infrastructure at four rural universities.

Cape Breton University, St. Francis Xavier, Acadia and Université Sainte-Anne are sharing $105 million in one-time funds this year, with about $65 million of that for repairs to infrastructure.

The province says that all 10 Nova Scotia universities have shared $24 million for annual maintenance in previous years.

Minister of Advanced Education Brian Wong said an infrastructure deficit hinders a university's ability to provide quality, modern education.

"We really need them to be ready for our immigration," he said following an announcement at CBU on Monday. "We're ready for population growth and they're really behind on their deferred maintenance."

The institutions need to catch up on basic work like roof repairs and electrical and mechanical systems, he said.

About 100 people were on hand at Cape Breton University on Monday for the provincial funding announcement. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

CBU is getting a little more than half the total, with $14 million for deferred maintenance, $5 million for a study into health-care staffing and $35 million toward construction of a new science building.

That capital contribution will give CBU a head start on its estimated $80-million Centre for Discovery and Innovation that is to replace aging science facilities, said president David Dingwall.

"This crucial new building will add additional and modernized laboratory [and] classroom space to our campus," he said.

The rooms will not look like typical classrooms with an instructor or professor in front of rows of students, said Dingwall.

Instead, students will have closer interaction with instructors and the facilities will be shared among several courses, rather than being designated for one professor or class.

Students are looking forward to improvements in the physical space, said Logan Collins, president of CBU's student union.

Logan Collins, president of CBU's student union, says the aging facilities need to be replaced for a variety of reasons. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

"A lot of these buildings are over 50 years old, there are issues with asbestos and they're also one of the major [users of] power on campus per square foot, so they're not well suited as a science facility in 2022," he said.

"We're in the same space our parents and our grandparents learned in, so the new space will certainly be more inspiring."

Addictions and Mental Health Minister Brian Comer also announced $5 million for CBU's strategic health initiative, which he said could be used to study recruitment and retention of health-care workers, or improved virtual health programs.

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