Province Hits Pause button on Laurier Campus

Milton Education Village Open House Image Credit: Twitter/ Town of Milton

By: Laura Steiner

The Province of Ontario has announced the cancellation of three post-secondary campuses in Markham (York and Seneca), Brampton (Sheridan and York), and Milton (Wilfrid Laurier University).  The statement came late Tuesday from Training, Colleges, and Universities Minister Merrilee Fullerton.

Fullerton cites the province’s $15 billion deficit as the reason.  “Through our government’s independent commission of inquiry, we now know that Ontario faces a $15 billion deficit, about two and a half times the estimate provided by the previous administration.  As a result, the Ministry is no longer in the position to fund the projects.”  Milton MPP Parm Gill’s office released a statement.  “MPP Gill will work with the stakeholders to put together a well thought-out business plan.  Our government is willing to consider a proposal for how this project may proceed in the absence of provincial capital funding.”  The Liberal government announced $90 million in funding for Milton’s Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) campus in April.  The PC’s say there was no Transfer payment agreement, meaning no money ever changed hands.

Wilfrid Laurier vows to continue work with the Town of Milton.  “The university looks forward to continuing its work with the Town of Milton and area partners to explore all options for keeping the dream of post-secondary education alive in this vibrant community,”  Spokesman Kevin Crowley said.  Laurier partnered with Conestoga on a post-secondary campus as part of the 400 acre Milton Education Village (MEV) neighbourhood in the Tremaine and Derry Rd. area.

Milton Town Council recently approved a secondary plan for the neighbourhood which was to include a 50 acre university campus, business park, and housing.  Newly re-elected Mayor Gord Krantz expressed his disappointment.  “As I begin my thirteenth term as Mayor, I know this is just a bump in the road for Milton.  We have invested ten years of hard work into making post-secondary education in Milton a reality- we have no intention of walking away now.”  Laurier has been working with the town since 2008.  They planned to have the first building ready by 2022.

Update:  Naidoo-Harris Starts Petition to Reinstate Funding

Reaction on social media to the decision has echoed Krantz’s disappointment.  Galen Naidoo-Harris has started a petition asking the government to reinstate funding.  “This petition is to both express discontent with the decision and advocate for the restoration of that funding by the Government of Ontario, and the continuation of this project.”  549 people have so far signed the petition.  Naidoo-Harris ran for council in ward two.  View the petition here.