Windsor

Request for $20M to renovate Paul Martin Building could reintroduce law school option

The City of Windsor is asking the provincial government for $20 million to renovate the Paul Martin Building, a move that if successful, could reopen conversations about moving the University of Windsor law program downtown, according to the school's president.

Law students describe their current building as cramped and musty

The City of Windsor is asking the provincial government for $20 million to renovate the Paul Martin Building. (Geoff Nixon/CBC)

The City of Windsor is asking the provincial government for $20 million to renovate the Paul Martin Building, a move that if successful, could reopen conversations about moving the University of Windsor law program downtown, according to the school's president.

Last week, during pre-budget consultations, city officials asked the province for financial support for the deal, which was previously thought dead.

The university pulled out of a deal to open a new school at the Ouellette Avenue building in August because the cost would be too high without funding from the province, explained president Alan Wildeman.

School officials were looking for the province to kick in a contribution similar to the City of Windsor, which had promised to cough up $15 million toward the project.

"The joke around here is the building is like a casino, they don't want you to know what's going on outside, there are no windows around here." - Hagar  Elsayed , University of Windsor law student

Wildeman said the university is now looking to build its new law school on campus because they simply could not keep waiting.

If he were told the province had agreed to chip in, he would tell them $20 million is no longer enough because construction costs have risen so dramatically since the proposal was first presented five years ago.

It would take significantly more money today, and Wildeman said there is no indication that any level of government is interested in bringing that kind of money to the table.

He added the university is about to issue a request for proposal to move forward with a law school on campus.

Wildeman was at the pre-budget consultation where the city asked for the money to complete the renovation and described the request as a surprise.

CBC News made several requests to speak with a representative of the city about the request for renovation funds, but a spokesperson was not made available Monday.

Current building is 'cramped'

Law students at the university describe their current building as "musty and cramped."

"The joke around here is the building is like a casino, they don't want you to know what's going on outside, there are no windows around here," explained Hagar Elsayed.

Other complaints about the school include a shortage of outlets and wifi connectivity, not to mention bathrooms.

"As beautiful as it is, there are limited washrooms, especially for the females," said Victoria Palermo. "There's one female washroom."

Clarifications

  • This story has been updated to indicate that $20 million is no longer enough to transform the Paul Martin Building into a law school, according to University of Windsor President Alan Wildeman.
    Jan 29, 2018 11:28 PM ET