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Kemptville College should run through not-for-profit, report says

A new report commissioned for the Municipality of North Grenville says the best long-term solution for Kemptville College would be to run the campus through a not-for-profit corporation.

College campus closed by University of Guelph in March when province stepped in

The survival of Kemptville College relies on the Municipality of North Grenville running it through a not-for-profit corporation, according to a report commissioned by the municipality.

David Gordon, the mayor of North Grenville, is hopeful the report helps the municipality find a long-term solution for the Kemptville College campus. (CBC)
The report, shared with councillors on Wednesday, advised the best long-term solution for the campus would be to own and manage the physical space through what is called the Kemptville Centre for Rural Advancement.

The report also looked into more innovative approaches to help the college succeed by interviewing officials at Vermont Technical College, Olds College in Alberta and Georgina Trades Training in Ontario.

Georgina's trades program is an example of how a municipality can use the collaboration of Centennial, George Brown, Seneca, Fleming and Georgian Colleges to deliver various programs, the report said.

"(The municipality) will draw multiple public, private and not for profit partners onto the Kemptville Campus, resulting in a diverse and unique program/course offering like no other in Eastern Ontario," said Eric McSweeney, who was in charge of completing the report.

The report also identified potential partners, demands for specific skills training programs, research priorities within the specific agricultural sectors and potential health and wellness services that could be located on the Kemptville College lands.

Long-term solution needed

In March, the University of Guelph decided to close its Kemptville and Alfred campuses due to "financial reasons."

In March, young farming students were concerned there were few options left for education if the Kemptville campus shut down. (CBC)
At the time, North Grenville Mayor David Gordon said the English Kemptville campus, which teaches around 180 students, is "the cornerstone of North Grenville." The closures would have eliminated at least 75 full-time positions at Kemptville and 37 at Alfred, as well as part-time and casual workers.

Then in April, the province stepped in to keep the Kemptville campus open with $2 million, which enabled the school to accept new students for this school year. However, a long-term solution was still needed.

In a news release, Gordon said the report provides some exciting options for the municipality.

"It paints a very exciting future for Kemptville College and its continuation as a regional institution for post-secondary education, training and skills development," the statement read.

"The opportunities contained in this report will ensure Kemptville College will meet the future labour force needs of business, agriculture and industry throughout eastern Ontario and beyond."

Adding to the dire situation in eastern Ontario, the agriculture industry has recently indicated a shortage of qualified workers in the area.

As for the Alfred campus, an agreement-in-principle was already reached by two French-language colleges in Ottawa and Sudbury to take over delivery of programs.

In the late 1990s, the municipality took over the Ferguson Forest Centre from the provincial government, which it believes gave officials experience that will help them this time around.

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