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New MOU supports continued exploration of Milton campus
Efforts to bring post-secondary education to the Town of Milton will continue through a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) that identifies specific areas to be examined in the development of the proposed Milton Education Village — a 450-acre neighbourhood centred around a 150-acre university campus.
Eight municipal, business and education partners, including Wilfrid Laurier University, are part of the new MOU, which was announced Monday at a meeting of Milton Town Council. The new MOU complements an existing memorandum between Milton and Laurier.
Similar to the first memorandum, the new three-year MOU outlines the intention of Laurier and Milton to continue investigating the potential for a university campus on 150 acres of land on the southwest side of the community, adjacent to the Niagara Escarpment. The new MOU includes additional partners with the expertise and financial resources to round-out the partnership needed to develop the broader concept of a Milton Education Village — a comprehensively planned, 450-acre neighbourhood that would include a university campus, research park with a technology commercialization centre, a variety of housing options, and retail support services.
Funding remains a major consideration. The new MOU, which must be approved by the Laurier Board of Governors, states that the proposal “requires an acceptable level of funding from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities” for construction, capital and operating costs for the university campus. The provincial government is currently preparing its 2011-12 budget, which is expected to include a new 10-year capital plan, including investment in post-secondary education infrastructure.
Academic programming at a Laurier Milton campus would be governed by the Wilfrid Laurier University Senate, which governs all academic programming at Laurier’s multi-campus sites.
“This new memorandum of understanding brings new partners to the Milton Education Village initiative and continues the exploratory work that is needed to assess the feasibility of establishing a Laurier campus in Milton,” said Max Blouw, president and vice-chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University.
“A Laurier Milton campus could produce significant benefits for the university, for the local community, and for students and residents in the broader GTA,” Blouw said. “However, we must proceed with due diligence. To this end, we will continue to share information and seek input from the Laurier community as we examine all aspects of this exciting opportunity.”
The university and its senior administrators have provided numerous updates and opportunities for discussion about a Milton campus since the first MOU was signed in March 2008 (click here for a list of updates and opportunities for input). To continue the discussion about the possibility of a Milton campus, a joint meeting of the university’s Senate and Board of Governors is scheduled for Feb. 17, starting at 1 p.m. in the Senate and Board Chamber.
In addition to Laurier, the other signatories to the new MOU include: the Town of Milton, Sheridan College Institute of Applied Arts and Technology, the Regional Municipality of Halton, Milton Hydro Distribution Inc., Mattamy Homes Ltd., Del Ridge Investments, and Milton Land Four Investments Ltd.
Some of the areas identified for further investigation include:
• The need for adequate provincial funding for capital and operating costs for the proposed Laurier and Sheridan campuses.
• Laurier and Sheridan College will develop their own MOU to explore joint academic programming and the development of the Milton Education Village and their individual campuses.
• Laurier and Milton will work together on a proposal in which the Town would finance the construction and operation of a parking infrastructure for the Laurier campus.
• Laurier, Milton and Mattamy Homes will jointly explore student residence needs.
• Laurier, the Town of Milton, and Milton Hydro will jointly investigate best practices in developing a sustainable, economical and energy-efficient campus that incorporates principles of green and clean technologies.
• Laurier, Sheridan and the Town of Milton will work together to investigate a universal transit pass.