If you’ve been following the news recently, yesterday was a bit of a roller coaster for Milton.
Earlier in the day we found out that CN, despite its assertions to the contrary, must apply to the Canadian Transport Agency (CTA) for approval of their proposed intermodal in Milton.
What does this mean? It means that it isn’t going to be smooth sailing as they thought it would be. In the grand scheme of things it means it’s another hurdle CN must climb before anything is approved.
You can read about the decision here (Inside Halton/Milton Canadian Champion – Rachael Williams) Further to that, there is a decision pending to see if CN has to complete a full environmental assessment with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) as part of their plans. If this is ordered by the CEAA, CN will have yet another hurdle to overcome before anything happens with the intermodal facility.
Is it good news for Milton? Yes it is. It goes with what Halton Region municipalities have been asking for since day one. Follow the process any other developer would have to follow in Milton. Is it perfect? Not at all, but it shows CN that they simply can not make assumptions and they do indeed need to follow a process.
There’s the “good news” for Milton. Now, to the bad.
After close to 8 years of planning by the Town of Milton, Halton Region and Laurier University, the Province of Ontario made a decision for a new location of a university campus. It wasn’t Milton.
The Province announced yesterday that the City of Markham (the municipality that tried for an NHL arena without a franchise) was the winner and approved a new York University / Seneca College campus beating out 12 others including Milton – which was considered a favourite – and Barrie.
You can read about this decision here (Inside Halton/Milton Canadian Champion – Rachael Williams) Dr Max Blouw, who is the President and Vice-Chancellor of Laurier University, stated that they will indeed re-submit the proposal to the Province of Ontario in 2016. The small sliver of a silver lining is that all is not done with new university campuses in Ontario. They did say that in spring 2016 there will be another bid process opened up and the Milton Education Village has another shot.
I spoke of roadblocks earlier and this is one for Laurier University and the Town of Milton’s plans for the Education Village – located at Tremaine Road from Derry Road to Britannia Road – and potential economic development along with much needed job opportunities for Milton. The Education Village, along with the Derry Green Corporate Business Park, is one of the keys to job growth and success in the Town of Milton.
In a press release by the Town of Milton (see here) we have committed to forge ahead with these plans and continue our advocacy with the Province to approve this campus. Laurier University along with Dr Max Blouw willl press on and resubmit their proposal in the spring of 2016.
The question remains is this. Why not Milton? Milton being the fastest growing municipality in Canada, is a prime location in the GTA for a university campus. It has the full support of all parties involved including the Town, Halton Region and Laurier University along with their future partners. The land is ready, available and serviceable. There is also a facility in place that will be part of the campus up and running – a little thing called the Mattamy National Centre for Cycling which is now being prepared for the Pan AM Games in roughly 50 days.
All the pieces are in place, yet brushed aside by the Province. These questions will hopefully be answered over the course of time and between now and the next proposal date, I will continue to advocate to the Province of Ontario, our MPP and anyone else who will listen, that the Milton Education Village / Laurier University campus should be approved as quickly as possible.
Jobs, economic growth and not to mention the Province of Ontario’s long time promise of post secondary spaces are keys to success. Maybe the Province thought that a few token announcement of a couple of additional GO Trains and a quick payment of ice storm funds would suffice for Milton. Not in my opinion.
Its time the Province of Ontario sees this. With Milton growing as fast as it is, at the behest of the Province itself, with close to 400,000 residents expected by 2041, the provincial government must recognize that this is a priority area and the right decisions need to be made at the first opportunity, not as an afterthought.