By: Laura Steiner
The idea of a post-secondary campus in Milton has been around since 2008. It started as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) and the Town of Milton. It grew into a 400 acre complex with research park, a 150 acre university campus. The project would be known as the Milton Education Village (M.E.V.).The Laurier Lecture series came along in 2010 and continues. The M.E.V. Innovation Centre opened in early 2014, and will play a role in the completed campus.
In October, 2016 Deb Matthews, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development announced her government would be seeking “expressions of interest” to establish a campus here in Milton. In January, 2017, the provincial government announced it was seeking requests for universities to develop proposals based on STEAM (Science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics). It’s been reported that Laurier was the sole applicant, and is potentially working with Conestoga College on the Milton location.
The final decision on the campus is expected this fall. On the surface it looks like a slam dunk for Laurier in Milton. The university has been working with the town for nearly a decade, and the province has started to realize the gem of a location posed by Milton. The population is among the youngest in the country, and the most affluent. The town’s location is at a crossroads of sorts with easy access to the 407, QEW, and access to the 401. Growth in Milton Derry Green Business Park is set to become reality bringing higher-tech jobs to the area.
Transit is perhaps the one thing that holds Milton back. There were plans for a full-day Go Service by 2041, and a station along Trermaine Rd north of Steeles. The provincial transit agency has announced the full-day service is being pushed beyond the 2041 ceiling described in The Big Move. The municipal transit currently seems organized around commuters, with the central hub being the GO Station on Main St. If you want to live, work, or go university here you’re pretty much stuck taking the car.
It may come down to politics. A fall decision on this campus brings it into a 6-8 month window of a provincial election. Where do the Liberals need the seat? Milton is right now part of the Halton riding represented by Indira Naidoo-Harris. The boundaries have changed, and the Town of Milton is now its own riding. A lot depends on who the Progressive Conservatives nominate as a candidate. They pick someone local, and the riding will go P.C. If they parachute a candidate who lives elsewhere, it’s anyone’s riding. The idea of a campus could be used as an election tool: vote Liberal, get a campus. It’s an ancient trick used by governments of all stripes. We just can’t fall for it.