Canadian Consulting Engineer

Recent buildings cause money woes for university

November 7, 2007
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

Two construction projects at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal (UQAM) are being blamed for the university's finan...

Two construction projects at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal (UQAM) are being blamed for the university’s financial problems.
The Auditor General of Quebec warned on November 1 that the university may go bankrupt from its debts unless it takes action. The francophone university has a long term debt of over $346 million, and risks owing half a billion dollars by 2012, the auditor said.
The auditor pinpointed two building projects as responsible for much of the university’s financial problems. One building was phase 2 of the Pierre-Dansereau Science Complex. Located between Sherbrooke, St-Urbain, Prsident-Kennedy and Jeance-Mance streets on the downtown campus, the science complex opened in 2005 and cost $205 million to build, $106 million over budget.
However, a spokesperson from the university says this huge complex “offers an extraordinary environment for teaching and studying, thanks to its classes and modern labs.” The complex incorporates the Sherbrooke Pavillion built in 1908, and two other historical buildings surrounded by gardens, and in these public science events are held. The complex also has UQAM’s first “green building” the Biological Sciences Building, which recently obtained LEED silver certification.
The second and most controversial project in terms of the financial troubles of the university, however, is the l’Ilot Voyageur complex. It is only partially built, with two of its five components completed, yet it is already over budget. It is to house teaching facilities, commercial space and a parking lot.
The l’Ilot Voyageur caused controversy when the contract was awarded without public tender to a New York-based real estate company known as Busac Real Estate.
CBC reports that as a result of the financial troubles of UQAM, the Quebec government is considering requiring that universities obtain its permission before launching out on building projects.


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