UBC and B.C. Government Partnership Injects $120 Million into Campus Facilities Renewal

The Province of British Columbia and the University of British Columbia today announced a $120-million, public-private partnership to upgrade aging buildings at B.C.’s largest and oldest university.

UBC Renew will allow the UBC Vancouver campus to extend the life of more than 90,000 square metres of buildings by 40 years or longer.

UBC Renew is a new financing model for public institutions. Among the first Canadian universities to do so, UBC secured financing in the bond market on the strength of its credit rating. This 2002 initiative made it possible for UBC to propose a joint financing plan with government.

“UBC Renew addresses an explicit goal of our Trek 2010 strategic plan to provide the best learning conditions for our students and support new academic plans and priorities,” says UBC president Martha Piper.

“We’re delighted at the support we have received from the Provincial Government which has shown its commitment to the future of post secondary education in this province”.

The first completed project of UBC Renew is a $3.7-million rehabilitation of buildings M17 and M18, which house theatre and visual arts programs. The Province has contributed $1.5 million to the project from the Ministry of Advanced Education’s capital budget.

“This is a long-term investment in UBC that will make its buildings safer, more accessible, and more cost-efficient,” says Premier Gordon Campbell. “We have made it a priority to increase access to
our colleges and universities, and that means we have to make a major investment in the buildings in which students and faculty are working and studying.”

“UBC Renew is a precedent-setting partnership that will help us meet the challenge of keeping UBC’s older Vancouver facilities safe, accessible and cost-efficient,” says Advanced Education Minister Murray Coell.

Coell adds, “Capital funding for post-secondary institutions is a key element in this government’s commitment to education, including updating the facilities we have, as well as investing in new buildings.”

Work is currently underway to renew the Chemistry Complex, which was built in 1926 and has the oldest buildings on campus. Offices, classrooms and laboratories in the Chemistry North and Chemistry Centre buildings will be upgraded and reconfigured. Work will be completed by mid 2007.

Future UBC Renew projects include arts and life sciences buildings. Improvements include building code, mechanical, electrical and seismic upgrades; improved disability access, and more than 1,000 square metres of additional usable space.


UBC Renew innovative solution to costly maintenance exceeding $320 million

The cost of maintaining a building snowballs as deteroriation accelerates and the cost of repair and renovations increase. Most building systems require substantial renewal after 25 to 30 years.

However, public institutions defer maintenance when faced with the demand for new space, limited budgets and funding cutbacks.

UBC is the province’s oldest and largest university with the first buildings erected in the 1920s. Throughout the building boom of the post-war years through to the 1970s, capital renewal funding did not keep pace.

At present, nearly 70 per cent of the core academic space at UBC is more than 30 years old. UBC is facing a deferred maintenance bill in excess of $320 million.

If facility maintenance is put off too long, buildings may fail to meet fire safety and seismic stability codes. Replacing these buildings is usually more expensive than maintaining them.

A comprehensive study of the problem across Canada, commissioned by the Canadian Association of University Business Officers, estimated in 2000 that it would cost $3.58 billion to catch up on backlogged maintenance at universities.

UBC Renew will improve learning conditions for thousands of students, support new academic plans and priorities and mitigate millions of dollars in deferred maintenance.