Asbestos abatement left out of budget
Despite an urgent request from the University, no money was forthcoming in the provincial government’s April 6 budget to address high priority asbestos removal on campus but according to the vice-president of facilities management, the situation “must be dealt with one way or the other.”
Paul Becker said the University will continue to seek the $15 million it needs for immediate asbestos abatement, even if it means a return trip to Regina. “We will go back to the province to see if there’s anything we can do post-budget to help deal with this asbestos challenge,” he said. There will also be discussions soon with the Board of Governors and the Provost’s Committee on Integrated Planning (PCIP) about how the University should proceed.
An extensive asbestos audit last year identified about $45 million worth of abatement work that needs to be done on campus, Becker said. All asbestos was located, then inspected to determine its condition, and that information was compiled in a database. From there, Facilities Management Division (FMD) identified $15 million worth of work that needs to be done on the material showing the greatest potential of causing a risk to health.
“The rest”, said Becker, “can be managed over the long term.” The University has an ongoing abatement program financed through the minor capital budget, he said.
Jim Spinney, director of budget planning in the Integrated Planning Office, said the request for assistance with asbestos abatement as detailed in the University’s Operations Forecast “was one-time money. This is a health issue…(and) our expectation is that if the Saskatchewan economy stays strong, if resource revenues stay strong, the government might have some extra money to invest in special projects.”