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U of L gets $20M to upgrade 50-year-old heating & cooling system

The provincial government announced earlier this week that they’ll be giving the University of Lethbridge $20 million for upgrading work.

The provincial government announced earlier this week that they’ll be giving the University of Lethbridge $20 million for upgrading work.

The upgrading is necessary. The district heating and cooling centre in University Hall facilitates the heating and cooling of many of the buildings on campus. Unfortunately, it’ll be 50 years old next year.

The U of L has been deferring upgrading for at least a decade—probably because of successive cuts in provincial funding—so it’ll be good to finally have this done. It’ll improve the ability for the university to heat and cool 80% of its buildings, lower the carbon footprint of the generated heat and cooling, and reduce operational utility costs through increased energy efficiency.

That being said, I remind the reader that the University of Lethbridge’s budget, which was released last week, revealed that over a 3.5-year period, they’ll lose out on $20.5 million in provincial operating grants.

So, don’t think of this funding announcement as new money. Think of it as moving money out of the operational budget and into the capital budget.

On a related note, the announcement also claimed that the capital project will be “creating about 112 jobs in the Lethbridge area”.

Remember, these will be primarily—if not exclusively—trade jobs. And while it’s great that HVAC workers and other tradespeople will have work to do for a few months, these workers are already working on other projects and will work on new projects once this project is complete. So, it’s not actually new jobs. New work, yes, but not new jobs.

Sure, there may be a few new people actually hired for the project, but it won’t be 112.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on municipal, provincial, and federal politics, specializing in investigative journalism and critical analysis from a leftist political lens. He also writes regular editorials on general politics and social issues.

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