uMontréal will scale back Outremont campus project if it exceeds budget envelope

October 17, 2012

The Université de Montréal's Outremont campus -- initially conceived as having a student residence, in addition to 20 departments and 10,000 people by 2030 -- now only has the green light for 2 pavilions with new classrooms, a library, and its chemistry, physics, geography, and natural science departments. "We are not abandoning it (the long-term plan)," says a uMontréal spokesman. "But for the moment what we want to concentrate on doing is this part of the project, which are these two pavilions that we urgently need. And after that we will do another analysis." He says that "if we see that our budget allows it we will construct the student residence, but that's not the priority of our budget." Some uMontréal professors question the need for a new campus with one million square feet of developable institutional land, when the institution's own numbers show it needs just 430,000 square feet of new space for a relatively stable student population of 45,000. The uMontréal spokesman says the university's space needs and development plans were evaluated by uMontreal's real estate committee. He says the institution is being fiscally responsible in deciding to spend $350 million to expand this new site situated 1.5 kilometres away from the main campus, rather than trying to renovate its aging facilities to meet the standards of modern laboratories. uMontréal will not tolerate cost overruns, the spokesman says. "We have a $350-million envelope that cannot be exceeded," he says. "If we surpass the amount, then we will reduce the scale of the project." Montreal Gazette