Province approves U of S bond issuance up to $85-million

The Province of Saskatchewan has approved the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) issuing a bond to carry out critical infrastructure renewal projects at its Saskatoon campus.

The $85-million bond proceeds will be put towards renewal of five core campus buildings that are essential to the university’s academic mission, including Physics, Thorvaldson, W.P. Thompson (Biology), Murray Library and Arts, as early as this spring.

“This approval is a very positive step for us as it gives us an innovative and cost-effective financing solution and allows us to more quickly address critical infrastructure needs, at no additional cost to the province,” said Greg Fowler, vice-president, finance and resources at the U of S. “The upgrades to classrooms, teaching labs and student spaces will improve the student experience and enable an environment that better supports teaching, learning and research.” 

Thousands of people use the core campus buildings on a daily basis, and upgrades will go a long way to the university’s ability to attract and retain excellent students, faculty and staff.

“Taking the library as one example, today’s students and researchers have vastly different needs than when the original buildings were constructed more than 50 years ago,” said Fowler.  

“Over the years, the need for critical infrastructure renewal has significantly outpaced our provincial funding, which is a common issue many universities across Canada are facing,” he continued.  

Fowler noted that within the last few years, at least eight other Canadian universities—McGill, McMaster, Ryerson, Trent, Western and York Universities and the Universities of Ottawa, Regina and Windsor—have pursued bonds to finance large projects.

The way a bond works, Fowler continued, is that investors lend us money when they buy U of S bonds.

“The university will pay interest at predetermined intervals, usually annually or semiannually, and returns the principal on the maturity date, ending the loan. The overall cost of a bond, in this instance, is lower than with traditional borrowing.”

Construction is expected to continue for about four to five years and everything possible will be done to minimize disruption to students, faculty and staff during renewal work.

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