Concordia University spent roughly $15 million on a project that began in December of 2010 in order to replace the escalators in the Henry F. Hall building including the surrounding architecture as well as the lobby escalators and stairs.
While the project managed to stay approximately $500,000 under budget, repairs are still not complete. The escalators, according to the Georgian Archives, have been breaking down frequently since 1969 and have caused many inconveniences for Concordia students.
“They’re [finicky] at best and there always seems to be at least two broken down,” said 19-year-old Concordia student, Christian Holloway. “I understand that they’re heavily used, but after all the construction on them, it’s become a persistent inconvenience.”
However, university spokesperson Chris Mota points out that these repairs are vital.
“It’s an important project and a major infrastructure upgrade,” said Mota. “It’s something the university has wanted to do for a very long time.”
Documents obtained by The Concordian through an access to information request report that in addition to the $15 million spent on the replacement of the escalators and surrounding architecture, the school has spent roughly $54,046 per year on repairs done by internal employees over the past 12 years, from 2000 to 2012. In addition, the university also spent $35,000 on repairs from external providers and expensed $89,000 towards the cost of employees and providers alone.
From 2005 to 2012, a total of $456,720 has gone toward blanket orders for escalator repairs from service providers. These are orders made between the university and specialized repair experts, who provide specialized services.
As of April 2011, the price of these service providers increased to $87,360 annually from the previous expense of $56,400 per year.
These figures account solely for the escalators in the Hall Building. Although escalators are still frequently shutting down, Mota states that this is just last minute tweaking that needs to be done and it will not affect the project’s budget.
“Millions of dollars are being spent and they keep telling us it’s the end of it, yet nothing seems to change,” said second-year psychology student Elizabeth Duong. “It seems like there needs to be more initiative to make a final game plan, we can’t keep filtering money into this forever.”
However, these management concerns are nothing new.
“It’s disappointing that there are millions of dollars being spent on the aesthetics of the university,” said Concordia Student Union Councillor Paul Jerajian. “Especially at a time where academics are having more and more financial difficulty.”
With repairs occurring so frequently, students are expressing concern that these costly projects will continue to be a problem for years to come.
Jane Ellen Wolno, a Concordia alumna is shocked by the school’s inability to complete the project.
“They were broken when I was studying there too,” said Wolno. “That was 25 years ago.”