Thursday 20 March 2008

Another week, another $100 million bucks

It seems as though the day after I left the U of M, they started to fix everything. Nothing happened while I was actually enrolled, but then I leave and suddenly Smart Park springs up out of an empty field, the engineering building is torn down and rebuilt, a brand spanking new residence is built, a parkade goes up .... and they're just getting going. Recently they've requested proposals for a hotel on the site of the Smart Park, and this week Project Domino was revealed:

Retiring University of Manitoba president Emoke Szathmary unveiled a $100-million-plus legacy project Wednesday that will change the face of the Fort Garry campus.

All told, 13 faculties and departments will be affected by the massive undertaking.

The big question of course: where is the money going to come from?
"Of course, there's an expectation government would participate," said (Education Minister) McGifford. "I don't think I want to talk about that today." [*]
Maybe the government is finally getting a little tired of all of these people grabbing for tax dollars?

It seems that every time you watch the news or open the paper there is another request for government money. The standard operating procedure is to announce the plan first then request the money second -- create some fancy conceptual drawings and a flashy web site, then wage a PR campaign to suck money out of the government. You are all familiar with some of the recent examples:
In a way, I think Gail Asper's success in securing government support for the Museum has set a precedent for the PR-driven MO that seems to be used to get funding these days. I'll call it the "Apser Effect", if you will.

I'm not saying that I oppose the U of M Domino plan ... in fact I think our Universities are tremendously important and we should invest in them. I just question the methodology of releasing your plan to the pubic first and then pressuring the government for money through the media. Is this how they do things in other cities, or is this Asper Effect our own little quirky way of doing business around here?


Graham said...

It makes sense when you actually say it. Although the only reason the "Gail Asper effect" is evident, is because some people somehow think they are entitled to a boatload government money, when their cause clearly doesn't justify it.

Fortunately for you, the Smart Park is a waste of...everything. It's a collection of tiny boring modern architecture boxes with glass. It's basically a big parking lot. It also is the complete opposite of the rest of campus, which is pedestrian friendly and nice to walk around in. The Smart Park is ugly, and I'll be damned if I'm going to be walking 10 minutes out of my way to walk on asphalt.

If I recall, the U of M president in the Freep was quoted yesterday as saying she "hopes" they get government funding. That's a lot different than some certain other groups I know.

This renovation project seems to be something that will actually do the U of M a lot of good. Especially for the music people...they are literally crammed into a little shack right now.

Unapologetic Ex-Winnipegger said...

The effect is exacerbated by the "NDP Effect" where attempts to extricate funds from the provincial government have a success rate in the order of approximately 100%. That is, of course, unless the proposal includes the words "Crocus" and "Audit" put too closely together...

cherenkov said...

g: They could have made Smart Park more pedestrian friendly, but I'm a big fan of integrating private sector R&D with the University. I like the concept of Smart Park.

u e-w: don't get me started on Crocus ...

David Watson said...

And of course Bob Silver is the Chair of SmartPark.
Question: Who will build the SmartPark hotel?
Answer: The Free Press will tell you when it is damn ready.

cherenkov said...

Silver's got his fingers in SmartPark too, eh? Good to know.

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