With the process for placing a new university campus in Brampton beginning, everyone is still wondering where the city will offer land or a partnership to locate the institution.
The province released its RFQ, and has released some guidelines and expectations of the partner school in their potential bid.
Bramptonist has selected several places in the city where a university campus could be placed, and have judged them against some criteria that the province itself will be using to evaluate bids.
Brampton Gateway (Hurontario and Steeles)
Imagine taking over several underused parking lots at Shopper’s World and placing a university here. It’s an established area with lots of transit, and a tired shopping mall that could use some life and business.
Potential buildings and space: All of the land in the area is privately owned, and they may or may not be willing to sell. A campus in the area could be a mix of new buildings, or maybe a reuse of Shopper’s World space.
Housing: There are several apartment buildings already in the area, as well as proposed and approved applications for new high rise rental and condo units. Some housing may be converted in the area, possibly causing friction with existing residents.
Intensification potential: As a “mobility hub” in the city and province’s plans, Brampton Gateway is supposed to be a dedicated area for high density and a mix of uses. Rio-Can has proposed redevelopment of Shopper’s World, and other area landowners reached out to the city during a new secondary plan process to build up.
Food/retail: If the university is built before Shopper’s World is redeveloped, students and faculty have a food court. There are other restaurants in the area, as well as two grocery stores. The mall also provides some stores, and a university is likely to bring a better variety back.
Transit: The Hurontario LRT is expected to open in 2022, which is possibly the opening year for the university if all goes well. One of Brampton’s big bus terminals is in the area, bridging well-established routes from all over west Brampton. A GO bus to and from Toronto does run to Shopper’s World at the moment, but other direct intercity connections are limited, though within a short distance by bus.
Community space (library, recreation, health care): Unfortunately, this area is limited in term of community spaces. There is recreation space, if they partner with South Fletcher’s or Sheridan College, but the distance is a weakness. Reusing Shopper’s World space could work in the interim, but Rio-Can may not want to give up space in the long-term. Likely, a new fitness facility, library, and other spaces (student centre, administrative) will have to be built.
Bramalea GO (Bramalea and Steeles)
Many of have suggested the site of Brampton’s busiest train station for a new campus. However, the industrial setting may leave many students and workers feeling depressed, and could possibly prevent the university from attracting the best and brightest.
Potential buildings and space: Unfortunately, modern industrial buildings are not so good for reuse. A campus here would require brand new buildings. The land is owned by Metrolinx and the province, who may not want to supply it.
Housing: Again, the area has little housing. There are a few apartment/condos along Bramalea, but then it gives way to very established residential areas that will have staunch opposition to new neighbours. Building new residential in an industrial area is also risky, as it could trigger a wave of employment conversions that destabilize an important jobs area.
Intensification potential: Despite the negatives, this area is another mobility hub, though one that is supposed to be focused on jobs and business. A university in this area could trigger the development of new offices and businesses that the city wants.
Food/retail: A university in this area is going to internally provide cafeterias and restaurants, as there is almost nothing nearby. There’s also no grocery store, or other retail.
Transit: There is no rapid transit planned in this area in the short-term, though the city has plans for a Steeles Avenue rapid transit corridor. However, the GO station attracts frequent bus services, and is an important intercity hub for Brampton. By 2024, there is also supposed to be two-way, all-day, and, 15 minutes train service terminating here, so if a partner institution is a downtown Toronto university, this could be an important link.
Community space (library, recreation, health care): A new library, recreation centre, doctor’s office, etc, is going to have to be built if this site is used.
Downtown Brampton (Main and Queen)
The hub of the city, Downtown Brampton, has been looking a new chance to shine. A university campus in this location would likely look very different from one in any other part of the city.
Potential buildings and space: A downtown university would look more like Ryerson than York; a campus here will likely have several buildings littered around the area, with many students milling around. The adaptive reuse of several buildings (The Heritage Theatre, the Robson Block, etc, which are all city owned) means more funding could be used on equipment or purpose-built facilities. The office space above the bus terminal, which is currently being leased by the city could also be used.
Housing: There are several apartments and condos in the area, of various sizes. There’s also some potential for residential intensification, though it’s currently expensive for developers to do due to current Etobicoke Creek floodplain restrictions.
Intensification potential: This is the western end of the big intensification centre for Brampton. The city and province would like this area of the city to grow the most, and it’s the area with existing good bones and infrastructure that could most support a mixed use community.
Food and retail: There are a lot of restaurants at all price levels here, including several places to get one’s caffeine fix. However, there is no grocery store in walking distance, though several within a bus ride. The retail mix in the area is not very diverse either, catering more to the extremes of consumers (used goods stores versus expensive goods).
Transit: Frequent all day GO train service might take a bit longer to get here than at Bramalea GO (though there is some), but Brampton GO is also the city’s VIA rail station, which might be important for a university that may host visiting academics from other parts of the country. There is also important local bus connections from all over the city, and two potential rapid transit lines will terminate here (Kennedy/McLaughlin and Queen).
Community space (library, recreation, health care): Many of the non-academic needs could be easily accommodated in downtown Brampton. The site is near the new Peel Memorial facility. The YMCA has been proposed in the past as the site of a joint athletics facility. The city wants to build a new central library (to replace Four Corners) and this could be a great opportunity to do so.
Flowertown Campus (Queen and McLaughlin)
Flowertown is the neighbourhood of Brampton west of downtown. The city had originally bought the land from the OPP for the purposes of attracting a university, but then proceeded to use some of the lands to build the Flowertown Seniors Recreation Centre.
Potential buildings and space: Any campus here would have to build new facilities. However, the land on the southwest corner is owned by the city and could easily be transferred to a partner institution.
Housing: Housing would have to be built for potential students. There are very mature neighbourhoods in the area that without crucial protections, and in spite of it, could become a terrible “student ghetto.”
Intensification potential: This isn’t an intensification node in the city. The city and the neighbours may not welcome development in the area.
Food and retail: There’s a grocery store across the road from the recreation centre. However, there is not a good variety of other food options or stores.
Transit: There are very few routes that serve this area. There are infrequent local routes, two strong arterial routes, and one infrequent Zum route. The McLaughlin LRT could potential pass by the area, but that won’t be for a long time. It’s a short jaunt to the downtown transit hub, which could make up for the lack of intercity connections.
Community space (library, recreation, health care): There is a recreation centre next door, but it would require a rethink to make it friendly to young people, as it currently aimed at seniors. Other facilities would have to be built.