Mayor Linda Jeffrey established a “Blue Ribbon” Panel just after winning the 2014 municipal election. The panel was headed by former Ontario Premier Bill Davis and their goal was to bring a University campus to Brampton. That goal took a major step forward on Wednesday, October 26th, when Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced $180 Million dollars to help fund new University sites in both Milton and Brampton.
During the announcement, Minister Sousa touted greater access to post secondary education through increased grants, simpler OSAP forms and free tuition for students from low income families. He also stated that “access to education should be based on the ability to learn and not just the ability to pay.”
The new funding is to be shared by both Brampton and Milton for the development of University sites that cater to science, techology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM). Both municipalities must now work with partnering institutions and the business community to create proposals to leverage the new funding. It is unlikely that a proposal for new stand-alone university will be accepted. Instead, the province is encouraging partnerships. In the announcement, there is no indication on what percentage of the funding will go to Brampton or Milton.
A University for Brampton has long been a contentious and sometimes fractious debate at city council. The previous council’s bid for a local university was submitted in haste and was quickly rejected by the province. The province instead looked at detailed submissions by York Region and Milton. York Region was eventually selected for an expansion of York University in the City of Markham with support for 4,400 students by 2020.
With this announcement, Brampton now has the possibility to retain some of it’s youth closer to home, while also attracting students from the GTA and beyond. The city now also has hopes of being a significant player along the “Innovation Corridor” and attracting high-tech companies.
Will this announcement be the catalyst that transforms Brampton from a sleepy bedroom community to a vibrant city? Will it stimulate long promised growth? In this exclusive Brampton Focus interview, we speak with Mayor Linda Jeffrey and drill down on some of the details and unanswered questions in establishing a University in Brampton.
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