U of G gets $33.6 million for enviro science centre

Monday, May 25, 2009

  • Left to right: U of G President Alaistair Summerlee, Guelph-Wellington MPP Liz Sandals and Federal Minister of State for Science

    Left to right: U of G President Alaistair Summerlee, Guelph-Wellington MPP Liz Sandals and Federal Minister of State for Science

Written by Greg Beneteau

The University of Guelph received $33.6 million from the provincial and federal governments to turn an old building into an environmental science research hub.

The money will go toward retrofitting and renovating the Axelrod Building, turning it into centre for environmental teaching and research as part of a stimulus package introduced by the Conservative government for shovel-ready projects.

The announcement was made by Gary Goodyear, Federal Minister of State for Science and Technology, at a press conference today in the McLaughlin Library. Guelph-Wellington MPP Liz Sandals and U of G President Alastair Summerlee were also on hand.

Goodyear said the Conservative government listened closely to stakeholders at Canada’s colleges and universities when drafting economic stimulus measures.

“They told us without doubt or hesitation they needed funding to address the deteriorating state of research infrastructure at their schools,” Goodyear said.

The result was the Knowledge Infrastructure Program, a two-year, $2-billion program intended to help post-secondary institutions keep their science and technology infrastructure up to date. Ontario’s post-secondary schools will receive $1.6 billion in KIP funding.

The money will target building projects that are “ready to go today” in order to have a stimulus effect on Canada’s economy, Goodyear said.

U of G’s portion of the funding included a $16.8 million investment from the federal government that will be matched by the province. The total package is expected to create 330 jobs.

Summerlee said the money would be used to turn Axelrod Building into an “environmental cluster,” housing the new Guelph Institute for the Environment as well as faculty and students from environmental science, engineering, rural development and land resource science programs.

The building will also undergo an energy retrofit to conserve electricity and cut down on maintenance costs, he added.

Sandals welcomed the cooperative funding venture as “an important investment in local infrastructure” that would give students and professors access to state-of-the-art research facilities.

“We know partnerships between the two levels of government help to make things happen at university,” Sandals said.

Adding a touch of humour to the proceedings, she said she was pleased the university chose to renovate the aging Axelrod Building.

“Having been both a student and later teacher in Axelrod… I can attest to the fact it’s been there for quite a long time, folks,” she joked.

U of G has been the recipient of several one-time funding grants over the last two weeks. On May 15, the provincial government gave $3.2 million to support two projects in genomics research at U of G, while the Ontario Veterinary College broke ground on a pet nutrition centre funded by Hill's Pet Nutrition and the province. The OVC's new large-animal isolation unit, part of another expansion project built with federal and provincial funds, opened its doors today.

Regionally, the provincial and federal governments also announced $72.5 million in investments for Connestoga College as part of the Knowledge Infrastructure Program. The money will be used to build facilities at the new Cambridge campus and expand existing programs in Waterloo and Guelph.

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