On April 18 at the Milton Education Village Innovation Centre the Ontario government gave final approval and financial support to expand access to post-secondary education in the Town of Milton and surrounding region.
“We are thrilled by today’s news and grateful for the Ontario government’s ongoing investment in postsecondary education,” said Deborah MacLatchy, Laurier’s president and vice-chancellor. “Laurier and the Town of Milton have been working towards this goal for more than a decade. I want to thank our municipal colleagues, area residents and our many partners who have worked so hard to bring post-secondary education to this vibrant community.”
Laurier has collaborated with the Town of Milton since 2008 to develop plans for an integrated educational, research, residential and commercial neighbourhood known as the Milton Education Village (MEV).
MPP Mitzie Hunter, the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development for Ontario was on hand and spoke about Milton and the journey in getting our campus. “…how we got here, and that starts with the story of Milton. It is an up and coming power house in Ontario. It is one of the fasting growing communities in Canada. People move to Milton because of its strong local economy and of course that feeling of being part of something. What a fabulous green community as well. Families know if they build their home here they will be welcomed and that’s something to be celebrated. It’s clear Milton is poised to make the most of its location nested in the green belt and the Niagara escarpment and to grow Ontario’s strong tech economy. But to do that we need to grow talent close to home. With no university in Milton students have to travel nearly an hour in any direction to find the closest campus. That’s not how we are going to keep Milton on its path to innovation. You are in the middle of Ontario’s innovation corridor, let’s use that.”
“I want to say a very special thank you to Indira Naidoo-Harris Who has been a tireless champion for this cause at Queen’s park. I gotta tell you, Indira made her voice known that Milton had to be the community for one of our new campuses. She was absolutely relentless. I just want to say you did it. You care deeply about the community, You care deeply about Milton and that’s clear to me, that passion is very clear to me.”
Local Milton MPP Indira Naidoo-Harris spoke next about Milton and the investment that’s being made by the province in the campus.
“As most of you know, Milton has been my home for close to 25 years, its home to 3 generations of my family. Why, because this is a special place. This town has the charm of a small community. Neighbours meeting each other as they walk down the street. People shovelling each other’s sidewalks in the snowstorm and parents getting together to car pool to school. But the reality is that Milton is now one of the fasting growing communities in Canada. Think about that with the escarpment as our backdrop this has been growing and changing in an incredible pace and much of that growth is to the amazing young people. They are full of hope for the future and they are our hope for the future. That’s why I am so pleased that Wilfred Laurier University and Conestoga College are coming together for this very important project for our community. Together we are developing a brand new state of the art campus right here in University.” said Milton MPP Indira Naidoo-Harris.
“I am proud and honoured to announce today that our government is investing $90 million dollars to support this new and exciting campus. This will create jobs, it will create opportunities and it will create a strong future for our families.”
“The exciting location for the new campus is 50 acres of land in the proposed Milton education village site and another 100 acres of nearby protected land to support hands on learning for the environmental science program.”
“On behalf of the entire community, I am thrilled to congratulate Wilfrid Laurier University on their successful proposal to build a STEAM-focused, post-secondary site in Milton,” said Milton Mayor Gord Krantz. “In a world of life-long learning, the Milton Education Village is a game-changer for our community and we couldn’t have better partners than Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College.”
“The late Mario Belvedere who was my CAO for quite some time, if I needed a fire lit under me for this project it was probably Mario” said Mayor Krantz.
“We appreciate the Government of Ontario’s investment in the Laurier-Conestoga partnership in Milton,” said Conestoga College President John Tibbits. “We look forward to working with our academic, industry and government partners to deliver relevant, accessible, career-focused learning programs that support the needs of the community, contribute to personal and professional success, and contribute to economic growth for the region.”
Laurier plans to enrol its first students in September 2019 in leased space, with a new building projected to open for the 2021-22 academic year, serving over 2,000 students with more students each year likely increasing to over 8,000 students in 5 years after that.
“Laurier’s academic programs in Milton – with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics – will meet a growing need for science and technology graduates in the innovation corridor between Waterloo Region and Toronto,” MacLatchy said. “Laurier’s strength in delivering integrated and experiential learning opportunities will ensure these graduates will possess the technological skills as well as the critical thinking and humanistic skills needed for a modern knowledge economy.”
Photos by: Rakhshan Mushtaq and RDL