City Could Spend Up to $150 Million on Brampton's New University

It’s no surprise that the city will spend millions on Brampton’s up-and-coming university. Though news on the university front has been quiet for some time, city council is now set to vote on a proposal to spend up to $150 million on post-secondary education.

City council will place their votes tomorrow, Wednesday, September 6, 2017 on a recommendation to spend up to $50 million over 10 years on a Ryerson University and Sheridan College partnership in downtown Brampton, and up to $100 million on community infrastructure in Brampton to support the facility, including a shared space for the community, businesses, and students, and a brand new downtown library.

The shared space has been labelled “a joint-use Centre for Education, Innovation and Collaboration in Downtown Brampton,” according to a recent council report.

"A financial contribution from the City of Brampton towards securing a new university campus will have significant, transformative impacts on the entire community. A new campus provides an opportunity to improve the lives of students and families and provides a boost to the Brampton business community,” said the report.

In order to contribute to the university initiative, the report recommends that the City leverage some resources and assets, such as a dedicated tax levy and a community investment fund.

As for a return on investment, the report provides some insight. Alongside a complete transformation to downtown Brampton, the report expects an ongoing economic impact of $220 million annually, or 1,510 jobs, based on a medium-term enrolment of 5,000 students.

Clearly, the university is expected to generate an even larger return on an already massive investment.

With a vision to create “a unique centre of education, innovation and collaboration” and “an opportunity to commit to the future” in mind, the university will partner not only Ryerson and Sheridan, but involve senior government and private sector investors to support that vision.

A more specific investment strategy is in the works, and further details on the Ryerson-Sheridan partnership are expected later this year. When that proposal is ready and has been reviewed, council will have the opportunity to agree upon investment details such as programming, proposed location, economic and social impact, growing the number of students to a sustainable level, and collaboration with Sheridan, new businesses, and other partners.

The up to $150 million commitment is benchmarking the investments of other cities with a university institution, according to the report.

Other municipalities across Ontario and Canada have recognized the benefits of having a university institution in their community, and have made investments ranging from $8 million to $50 million in a new facility or renovated existing space,” said the report.

In terms of provincial support, the province is already spending $180 million on post-secondary institutions in both Brampton and Milton, which the report details as a “starting point” for provincial investment.

The Brampton university is set to be unique, with a focus on innovation and collaboration. In terms of programming, the campus will focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics, or STEAM, alongside advanced technology and experiential learning.

"We want to do something that hasn't been done anywhere else in Ontario," said Michelle Mccollum, Senior Manager, Strategic Development, at a town hall meeting over the summer. "We want people to point to Brampton and say that this is how post-secondary education should be done."

Mccollum stated that the province will want to move forward fairly quickly with the project, with the project likely starting in the 2020s.

As for now, discussions are ongoing with Brampton Library, school boards, and the Region of Peel. Ryerson will submit a final proposal to the province in early fall of this year, and the province will announce further details in late fall of this year.

The university is part of several City initiatives geared towards creating a future-ready Brampton, including new health partnerships, the Riverwalk, and transit initiatives like the upcoming Light-Rail Transit system.

Council’s decision on the investment remains to be seen.

We will keep you updated as details arise.

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