Province cancels Laurier-Conestoga satellite campus in Milton

The province announced Thursday it will not fund three planned GTA satellite campuses for three different universities, including the Wilfrid Laurier-Conesoga College joint campus in Milton.

Laurier 'deeply disappointed' by sudden news from provincial minister as 3 GTA projects canceled

Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo and Conestoga College in Kitchener had planned a joint campus in Milton. It was announced Tuesday the provincial government will not fund the campus. (CBC)

Officials at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., say they're "deeply disappointed by the sudden news" the new provincial government will not fund a planned new satellite campus in Milton.

The campus was going to be a partnership between Laurier and Conestoga College in Kitchener.

A release on Tuesday from Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, said the government has decided not to fund three satellite campus projects. The other two are a joint York University-Seneca College campus in Marham and a Ryerson University-Sheridan College campus in Brampton.

"Our government committed to restore accountability and trust in Ontario's finances. This includes making difficult decisions about projects across the province," the statement said.

Fullerton said that because of a $15 billion deficit, "the ministry is no longer in the position" to fund the projects.

"Wilfrid Laurier University appreciates the financial challenges facing the Ontario government, but we are deeply disappointed by the sudden news to cancel the university's new campus in Milton," the statement from the university sent to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo Tuesday evening said.

Conestoga College said it "respects and understands the government's decision" to end funding to the project, and urges future investments should be put in place to help address the province's skills shortage.

"It is essential that future investments meet the needs of all Ontarians, further contributing to the province's ability to address current and emerging skills shortages, and directly supporting the needs of employers," the college statement said.

Will continue to work with Milton

Laurier has been working with Milton to build a satellite campus there for a decade. A bid to build the campus in 2015 was rejected by the province.

The new campus was announced in April and the province pledged $90 million for the project. Laurier said it would start accepting students in September 2019 in a leased space.

Laurier said it will continue to work with Milton to build a campus despite the setback from Queen's Park.

"The site of Laurier's proposed Milton campus is strategically located mid-way along the Toronto-Waterloo Innovation Corridor, a perfect location for contributing to the tremendous economic potential associated with this partnership and which would benefit the entire province," the university statement said.

"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."