By Mary Chan
The University of Calgary will receive $6 million to upgrade facilities as part of a one-time $38 million funding initiative announced by the Government of Alberta on Monday.
Students won’t see any big changes as a result of the additional money, since the U of C will use the money to maintain operation of the institution.
"This money is basically for the various building systems and the utility system of the university, what we call the base building system–mechanical, electrical, telecommunications, sewer, water," said Director of Campus Planning Barry Kowalsky. "It’s not things people are going to see, but the buildings will continue to be warm in the winter and cold in the summer."
According to Kowalsky, the money may also be used to expand current systems to facilitate new buildings.
"We may also do some planning for growth," he said. "[It will be] both dealing with issues that are there (because buildings are getting older), but also we will be spending in a proactive way to continue to grow."
Kowalsky added, however, the university requires much more than $6 million to fulfill its infrastructure needs.
"Six million is appreciated, but it still falls short of the money required to keep the physical plant of the university up to acceptable conditions," said Kowalsky, adding that the university’s infrastructure wish list totals $80 million.
U of C Students’ Union President Rob South is happy the government sees that the university’s physical infrastructure is suffering, but adds there is more to a good university than buildings.
"The government also needs to recognize people as a concern and start giving institutions money that will entitle them to deal with people through faculty salaries and lower tuition," South said.
Twenty-two post-secondary institutions will receive money from this grant. A formula was used to determine how much money to distribute to each institution.
"It was based on the institutions’ conditions and square footage," said Alberta Learning spokesperson Ed Greenberg. "A bigger facility with more buildings would probably get more money because they have more buildings to upkeep."
The data used for the evaluation came from a 1997 audit performed by an independent consulting firm.
The grant comes from a $600 million infrastructure allotment funded by this year’s projected $2 billion budget surplus. Of the $600 million, $425 million went to roads and bridges and $90 million went to health capital projects. The remaining $47 million has yet to be allocated.
Kowalsky hopes the money is an indication of things to come.
"One would hope it’s part of an ongoing commitment by the Alberta government to maintain infrastructure," he said.