Furious Reactions to Brampton's University Being Cancelled
The bombshell dropped on Brampton that the much coveted Ryerson University campus for downtown Brampton was being cancelled has reverberated everywhere and garned a number of reactions.
Colleges and Universities Minister Merrilee Fullerton said that to “bring trust and accountability into the province’s finances by finding efficiencies,” the province is cancelling not only Brampton’s university, but the ones slated for Milton (with Wilfrid Laurier University) and Markham (with York University).
Some have said that the Wynne Liberals, when they announced the funding, was in the midst of 2018 election fever and wanted to throw enough money to shore up support to stay in power. Others said the business case wasn’t being met when it came to Ryerson’s campus in Brampton, even though plans and details were provided over a year before.
The sudden announcement prompted numerous parties to speak out, mostly leaning one direction. This came from the City of Brampton:
The City's disappointed by the Province’s decision to not fund university campus projects in Brampton Milton & Markham. We will continue to work with our partners to advocate for a solution to this issue that brings transformational benefits and economic opportunities to Brampton— City of Brampton (@CityBrampton) October 23, 2018
Mohamed Lachemi, the president of Ryerson, released this public statement.
“The planned expansion, a first for Ryerson, was the result of countless hours of hard work and dedication from many members of the Ryerson community. This was matched by enthusiastic support from the City of Brampton and our partners at Sheridan College,” Lachemi said.
He added that Ryerson will continue to work with the government and all of our partners to provide innovative academic programs that offer the critical thinking and problem solving skills needed to succeed and thrive in the modern economy, adding that they recognize that this was a difficult decision for the provincial government.
The Brampton Board of Trade offered a rebut of the assertion that the “business case” wasn’t being made, and that the university did have long term implications for economic growth in the city.
“The proposed $90 million for the Brampton-Ryerson campus sparked serious public and private sector investment interest including plans for new downtown housing, a Centre for Innovation and a Cyber Security Institute,” said BBOT CEO Todd Letts in this statement.
“Minister Fullerton’s decision seems myopic. With so much waste in other parts of government, it seems silly that the target is put on stifling innovation. Universities are economic drivers. This campus is the catalyst for many complementary economic investments in our city. The ROI is undeniable. We fear that these complementary quality of life and innovative investments are now also at risk,” Letts added.
Rowena Santos and Paul Vicente, newly elected to city council, released this statement to inbrampton.com offering a solution:
“We understand the province is being fiscally responsible with the provincial budget, but Brampton has committed $150 million to this project, an investment which we support for our city and its future. As councillors-elect in the area, we propose an action plan whereby we work with Council to propose a reallocation of that investment that will support the capital costs and ensure that Ryerson is built on schedule,” Santos and Vicente said jointly, adding that they wanted to reach out to the federal government to find funding.
Federal MP Ruby Sahota was receptive to the city on finding an alternative solution:
As a federal MP I look forward to working with you on finding solutions. Doug Ford’s cancellation of the Brampton University is a big loss for our people. #ForThePeople, I don’t think so. https://t.co/zzcAcntwux— Ruby Sahota (@MPRubySahota) October 24, 2018
Brampton’s NDP MPPs had much harsher language to dish out on this matter.
“Overnight and with the stroke of a pen, Doug Ford has cancelled the future of Brampton students and sent shockwaves through our community,” said MPP Sara Singh (Brampton Centre). “Ford shattered the hope of Brampton parents that wanted to see their children educated and find a job close to home. He’s set our world class and growing city back decades and taken away the economic boost we were counting on”
“Where the Liberals treated Brampton as a second class city, Ford’s Conservatives are on track to make things even worse, showing no interest in building a new Brampton hospital and working against students and businesses that were counting on a new university campus,” said MPP Kevin Yarde.
Former Brampton mayoral candidate Wesley Jackson said this to inbrampton.com:
“Between this decision and the failure to vote in favor of Brampton’s interests on the motion to fund the hospital expansion, it is clear that our PC MPP’s recognize that the government is not acting in Brampton’s best interests. I view it as moral obligation for them to cross the floor until the PC Party corrects its treatment of Brampton. Party loyalties must have a limit!”
While crossing the floor is unlikely, PC MPPs Prabmeet Sakaria and Amarjot Sandhu released a joint statement blaming the Liberals for promising money on projects they never intended to complete and lying about the deficit.
“Our government would be willing to consider a business case for how these projects may proceed in the absence of provincial capital funding. Brampton deserves a thoughtful, sustainable proposal to bring post-secondary education to our city,” the Tory MPPs said.
Speaking of ‘the business case’, this writer and geographer pointed out that Metrolinx had already begun buying up and demolishing downtown blocks in anticipation for the university.
Metrolinx has been buying up and demolishing a block of Downtown Brampton for a parking lot.— Sean Marshall (@Sean_YYZ) October 23, 2018
This was to make way for a new Ryerson campus that was going to be located on the nearby GO Station property.
But some believed that the universities have enough to house students on main campus, with adequate transit, saying that post secondary institutions are in it for the money.
What? University can house these students easily on their main campuses. There is perfect transit to get to York form Markham. Ryerson wants the Indian market in Brampton (taking away from Sheridan and Humber). Universities are in the biz of making $ not teaching.— Medici (@RedBaronXCI) October 24, 2018
Many have said that this comes down to a money issue, and that if this was really only about Brampton, then only the Ryerson campus would have been cancelled (instead all three satellite campus proposed were axed).
However, it does seem short-sighted and not very forward thinking when the ultimate goal of investing in post secondary education is to advance oneself and contribute to the economy.
Or perhaps we should give the Tories the benefit of the doubt and wait to see if they can offer alternative ideas down the road.