Quebec Education Minister Michelle Courchesne and Senator David Angus announced last Monday at McGill’s Otto Maass Chemistry Building that the University would be receiving a grant of $103 million from the federal and provincial governments. The grant, which comes through the Knowledge Infrastructure Program, a part of January’s $12 billion Economic Action Plan, will invest in a brain imaging centre at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, new life sciences facilities at the Macintyre Medical Building, renovations at the Otto Maass Chemistry Building, and new facilities at the MacDonald Engineering Building.
These upgrades, according to Principal Heather Munroe-Blum, are designed to “address a few of our most urgent maintenance projects that have been deferred for several years” and to “allow McGill to attract the next generation of brilliant Canadian innovators.”
Arti Sharma, director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, a lobby group which works to attract deferred maintenance funding for post-secondary institutions, called the move a “band-aid solution,” and added that it will go only part of the way to reversing a trend of brain-drain from Canada’s universities due to budget cuts made in the nineties.
While upgrades to McGill’s science facilities will doubtless be a boon to the University, some are wondering why new buildings are being constructed while old ones, such as the Leacock Building, are in a dangerous state of disrepair. The cause of the mysterious illnesses of eight secretaries at Leacock last year, which some believe was linked to contact with muriatic acid fumes due to a failure of the ventilation system, has still not been fully addressed by the University.