GSS leads deferred maintenance tour

WEB-DM tours-Leah Bjornson

“I call this part of the tour ‘Shrum: the good, the bad, and the ugly,’” laughed Julia Lane, coordinating and external relations officer for the GSS, as she led the deferred maintenance (DM) tour group into one of Burnaby campus’ most dilapidated buildings last Monday, Oct. 21.

The GSS has been concerned with aging infrastructure and facilities at the Burnaby campus over the past two years — a concern that earned media attention with its “I [heart] SFU” campaign on Tumblr. The blog encouraged students to post pictures of the decay, one of which ultimately made the cover of The Vancouver Sun.

The GSS sent out DM packages inviting politicians to participate in a tour of the campus to see and experience the impacts of deferred maintenance first hand. David Eby, MLA for the Vancouver-Point Grey riding, and newly appointed critic for advanced education, was the first politician to take the GSS up on their offer.

Joining Eby on the tour were Jane Shin, MLA for the Burnaby-Lougheed riding, Chardaye Bueckert, external relations officer for the SFSS, and Christina Batstone, GSS advocate.

The tour group was first greeted by Adrian Smith, manager of Residence and Housing, who took the group to see a decommissioned suite in the Louis Riel Building. The one-bedroom family suite was decommissioned after a large window was broken in the bedroom and subsequent water damage destroyed much of the flooring. The university has refrained from repairing the suite, as one-bedroom units are not in high demand.

The group then travelled from residence to the chemistry buildings, passing by the athletic complex, the library, and Convo Mall. Explained Lane, “One of the interesting things to note about the athletics complex is that our pool . . . it leaks, significantly.”

“The pool leaks?” exclaimed Eby. “Yep,” responded Lane.

Convocation Mall is also in need of a refit, according to the Five Year Capital Plan 2014/15 – 2018/19, which was prepared by SFU Facilities Development. The report suggests improvements must be made to address structural deficiencies, inadequate snow load capacity and envelope failures, as “the glass panels are old and are coming loose from their frames more frequently” and “the columns and steel frame do not meet current seismic code requirements.”


Thirty-nine per cent of SFU Burnaby buildings are in “poor condition,” according to the Facilities Condition Index.


Similar improvements are required in 39 per cent of SFU Burnaby buildings, which are in “poor condition” according to the Facilities Condition Index. The total estimated deferred maintenance and capital renewal cost for poor condition buildings is approximately $532,000,000 — $62,000,000 higher than it was one year ago.

Perhaps the most dramatic examples of deferred maintenance presented during the tour were in the Shrum Science Buildings — specifically, in biology and physics. The Five Year Capital Plan stated that these buildings are “at the end of their functional life [and have] significant deficiencies with respect to current seismic and building code requirements.” The cost for repairs is estimated at $75 million for biology, and $50 million for physics.

Jen Chang, manager, Academic and Administrative Services, identified a particularly disturbing trend in the Shrum buildings to the group. “There is a rodent problem . . . We’ve seen blood trails going from the traps into the wall, and then you don’t know where it went.”

“It used to be that at night you would see a couple rats running around, but now during the day you see [them].”

After navigating through labs of stalactites and mould and passing by  some green slime, the tour reached its end. Although herself caked in dust from the tour, for Lane, it was all worth it.

“We feel that seeing the impacts of DM helps politicians to know why students are raising this concern and that this actually does impact our daily lives at SFU,” said Lane. “Our immediate next step will be to [once again] invite the Minister of Advanced Ed to take part in a tour.”

“Seeing that young mother with a newborn baby in family housing building where the air was so obviously affected by mould was awful,” said Eby after the tour. “The Minister of Advanced Education can’t hope to maintain any shred of credibility if he refuses to take this tour.”