Wilfrid Laurier's pitch for Milton campus rejected by province

The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities has turned down Wilfrid Laurier University's request to help bankroll its proposed new campus in Milton with taxpayers' money.
Wilfred Laurier University - Science Building, Bricker Ave. (CBC)

The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities has turned down Wilfrid Laurier's request to fund its proposed new campus in Milton. 

Wilfrid Laurier University president Max Blouw says he was sitting with Milton city officials Tuesday night when they were hit with the news. 

"I was very very disappointed and I must say, I was very surprised," said Blouw.  "We've been working at this for seven years."

The city had donated a 60-hectare land parcel worth $50 million for the new campus — contingent on funding from the Ontario government.

Blouw said the province didn't specify on Tuesday why it chose a new York University campus in Markham over the proposed Laurier campus in Milton, but suspects it might have come down to cost. 

"It sounded to me like the offerings at the proposed campus by York and Seneca are going to be in the humanities and social sciences. In other words: without science labs, expensive infrastructure. I don't know if they intend to have a library, a student commons et cetera" said Blouw. 

"Our campus, as we proposed it for Milton, had all of those things. And we recognized that the costs would be higher when we have a full service, full academic spectrum campus."

The Milton-Laurier partnership was one of 19 submissions to the province's call for proposals issued to post-secondary institutions last year.

The government said it judged the proposals based on a number of criteria, including the ability to serve areas with growing demand and avoid any unwarranted duplication of existing programs.

Proposed Milton campus not dead yet

But the university insists that doesn't mean the planned expansion is dead. 

"The university remains committed to the important goal of bringing post secondary education to the Milton community, and it will continue to work with its public and private-sector partners to prepare for future opportunities to secure provincial approval for a campus in Milton," said the university in a news release Wednesday.

The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities says there will be a second call for proposals in spring 2016, for a campus in the Peel and Halton region — which includes Milton.

Blouw said Laurier does intend to resubmit its proposal.

With files from The Canadian Press