Milton’s Ivory Tower

For those of you who havent seen the news, the Town of Milton is making it known we have some coveted land available for a post secondary institution…almost like a first come first serve.

town has been talking about this for some time now. Its been in the works for months and they’re finally moving on the pitch. If Milton could scoop a university/college campus for the town it would be a major coup. Mississauga was/is trying for the same thing.

There is a shortage of spaces available at post secondary schools in Ontario and with getting rid of Grade 13, it only got worse with more students looking for a place to go. Its a huge piece of land and giving it away might sound like the wrong thing but the long term goals outweigh the short term.

Where its located, it can provide a huge boost…especially with young people…shopping in town. Its really close to downtown Milton which can only benefit from the additional people. Traffic of course would increase and we have to make sure the towns ready for it and plan in advance. We would have to look closely at locations in Oakville by Sheridan College and the traffic impacts there. The town would have to look at how commuters will be getting to the campus, for instance GO train or GO bus. If so, we would have to start now working on a deal with the province to provide sufficient GO bus/train service to Milton, well before the ground is broken on the campus.

You can also play devils advocate and say with bringing in more students you will increase the need for “affordable housing” IE apartments and it would also increase the demand for basement apartments. Its something I don’t think the town has an official by law on and it in turn would have to be looked at. Not everyone who would be attending this campus location would be from the area. With it getting harder and harder for students to get into high demand university programs, a good college system will be needed to catch the overflow and provide a high quality program to keep up with the needs of business and technology in the future.

And thats just the tip of the iceberg. Many questions need to be asked, studied and answered. When you make a decision like this you have to look at the long term impact…5, 10 and 15 years in the future. Its something the Town of Milton hasn’t done very well in the past and I hope that will change in the coming months/years to come.

I think, if its planned correctly, a college or university campus located in Milton can be a good thing. Only if they use common sense in making those plans. We can only hope.

Here’s the article.

Milton covets its own ivory tower – Education – Milton covets its own ivory tower

Fastest-growing town in Canada offers free land in bid to lure a university or college campus

August 01, 2007

Education Reporter

Free to a good campus: A chunk of Canada’s new boom town.

Bustling Milton may have the fastest-growing population in the country and a business boom to match, but there’s one thing it hasn’t got that it wants very badly.

A wing of the ivory tower.

It’s offering a $3.5 million parcel of land by the main drag, just steps from the GO Train station, free to the first college or university to bite.

The timing couldn’t be better, after Toronto university presidents warned this week a surprise surge in enrolment could bring 40,000 more students to GTA colleges and universities in the next 15 years – sparking talk of a possible new GTA campus.

“The way we’re growing – and the way the GTA is growing – this could be the most sensible location for a new campus,” said Mario Belvedere, Milton’s chief administrative officer, who calls the two-hectare site of the old Pigment and Chemical paint factory “a dynamite, gorgeous location.”

“We want a post-secondary institution to balance out our residential and industrial growth – we’ve got a disproportionate number of kids here and in a few years they’ll need somewhere to go for higher education,” said Belvedere.

Milton topped the charts in the latest Census by roughly doubling the number of children under 14 in just five years, making it a young town that will put pressure on the school system, he said. It opened two more schools last year and has another two ready to open this fall.

These students will be part of the boom that puts pressure on all GTA universities, as well as community colleges such as George Brown College, which face the same space crunch as enrolments climb.

The U of T already has satellite campuses in Mississauga and Scarborough. McMaster University in Hamilton plans to open a campus in Burlington. Sheridan College in Oakville has a satellite campus in Brampton. The University of Guelph has a joint campus with Humber College in Etobicoke.

Still, Milton needs its own campus, says Belvedere.

“But we realized just wishing for a university or college to come here is not enough; we need to attract their attention.”

The town acquired the land through a partnership with the Royal Bank. Officials are contacting all Ontario colleges and universities to pitch the free land. The offer expires in December 2008.

It has even posted a sign that proclaims with confidence, if few details: Future Home of Post-Secondary Institution.

“Free land!” says Belvedere. “Is that amazing or what?”

Humber College plans to open a satellite campus in 2009 in Orangeville.

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