Laurentian University not giving up on Barrie, despite province putting new campus in Markham

Laurentian University says it will continue to push to build a new Barrie campus, even though the province has chosen to go with a new university campus in Markham instead.

Markham chosen for new university campus because of strong population growth, province says

There will not be an a new Laurentian University campus in Barrie... at least for now. L.U. president Dominic Giroux joined us in studio with reaction to an announcement that the province has opted for a new York University campus in Markham instead.

Laurentian University says it will continue to push to build a new Barrie campus, even though the province has chosen to go with a new university campus in Markham instead.

The province announced Wednesday it has selected a plan by York University, in partnership with Seneca College, to build a new campus in Markham, just north of Toronto.

The announcement comes after several universities, including Laurentian, put forward pitches for potential new campus sites. The province was looking for proposals that would help more students get a post-secondary education close to home.

Disappointment for Laurentian

The news that the Barrie pitch was not successful is disappointing, said Chris Mercer, Laurentian's Chief of Staff.

"Markham in my mind is a curious choice. There are literally 10 university campuses within 54 kilometres," Mercer said.

"It, in my mind, totally doesn't respond to the access to education issue that this process was intended to address."

The province said Markham was chosen because of strong population growth in the region and the opportunity to provide more post-secondary opportunities at a reasonable cost.

Laurentian already offers degrees in Barrie through a partnership with Georgian College, but the Sudbury university wanted to build a separate campus in that city's downtown. 

Barrie city council has already committed $14 million to Laurentian, should the campus go ahead, but the project would have required about $45 million dollars from the province.

Laurentian will meet with provincial officials to find out why the Barrie proposal was not chosen and to talk about what else may be possible, Mercer said.

"We have no intention of taking no for an answer," he said.

Province eyes Peel, Halton

But expanding in Barrie could be an uphill battle.

According to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, the province will issue a second call for campus proposals in the spring of 2016, but it will be looking for expansion projects to serve the Peel and Halton regions.

"Our main goal is to address areas of the province that are currently underserved and where enrolment demand is expected to increase over the long term. York, Peel and Halton regions most strongly demonstrate these two criteria," the Ministry said in a statement. 

"All unsuccessful proposals, including Laurentian, have been offered the opportunity to debrief with the Ministry about the strengths and weaknesses of their proposal and why it was unsuccessful," the Ministry added.