NEWS

82 Montreal school board buildings in states of serious decay

01/20/2014 01:33 EST | Updated 03/22/2014 05:59 EDT
CBC/Radio-Canada has obtained the names of 82 schools and other buildings in Montreal’s French-language school board, CSDM, that are considered to be in very advanced states of decay.

Obtained through the Access to Information Act, the buildings are named in a new interactive map that is searchable by borough.

Most of the buildings require extensive renovations but 27 are considered to be in an "excessive" state of decay, which means it would cost as much if not more to renovate them than it would to rebuild them.

Most of the schools in question are found in the older boroughs of Rosemont, Plateau Mont-Royal, Villeray, Ahuntsic, Ville-Marie, Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and Côte-des-Neiges. The average age of CSDM buildings is around 70, one of the oldest in the province.

Among the long list of problems that the CSDM has identified are leaking roofs and leaking exterior masonry, plumbing and electrical systems in need of upgrading, outdated or nonexistent ventilation systems, and doors and windows that need replacing.

CSDM has no plans to demolish any buildings, which leaves it facing the massive job of trying to repair existing buildings if it can obtain the financing to do so.

No simple solutions

The situation has the board’s employees and administrators facing the difficult challenge of getting the work done while limiting school closures and the temporary transfer of students to other schools while renovations take place.

“We have $50-million a year for maintenance and this year we’ve received an additional $43-million for air quality improvements,” says Catherine Harel-Bourdon, president of the CSDM.

That funding will benefit 16 schools.

The CSDM temporarily closed four schools recently for much-need decontamination and renovation work — Saint-Nom-de-Jésus, Saint-Gérard, Hochelaga and Baril.

Problems at Baril are so advanced, however, that the school might have to be demolished and a new school built.

The board’s priority, however, is to renovate and restore its historic buildings.

"We're not the wreckers. We have an important heritage to preserve, " says Ms. Harel-Bourdon.

Faced with a maintenance deficit of $ 1.7 billion, Harel-Bourdon said CSDM is working to convince the provincial government to double its annual maintenance budget to $100-million.

CSDM owns or uses 226 schools.

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