Ever since the Ontario government announced that Brampton would be the site of a new post-secondary campus in October 2016, residents have waited for more news.
The city, however, isn’t waiting for Ryerson University’s joint proposal with Sheridan College to be revealed later this fall. Instead, they have proposed a new investment strategy of up to $150 million over 10 years which will be directed to the university and shared community services.
While this still needs approval by the Committee of Council on September 6, and then finally approved on September 13, it would be the city’s first contribution on their side of the bargain that the province’s University process has asked for.
The province has dedicated up to $180 million which will be shared between the proposed Milton-Laurier campus and Brampton-Ryerson campus, though it’s not known at this time whether the funds will be split equally.
The city would dedicate up to $50 million over ten years directly to the academic campus. The greater bulk of funding, up to $100 million over ten years, would go towards a joint-use “Centre for Education, Innovation and Collaboration.”
The city has stated that this could be used in part for a new downtown library to replace the aging Four Corners branch. Currently, Sheridan College and the library collaborate with the Makerspace and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) projects at the Four Corners and Chinguacousy branches. A new facility would allow Ryerson to also contribute.
The city’s report says the economic spin-off from a municipal investment could potentially net 1,500 jobs and ongoing economic benefit of $220 million.
University and college funding is the responsibility of the province, but the province generally only funds academic buildings. Non-academic buildings, such as residences, student services, and other kinds of facilities (like innovation centres or health care) have traditionally been left for student levies and university private fundraising. While the Ryerson Student Learning Centre (pictured above) did have some funding from the province, the bulk of the funding came from private sources. This explains why the non-academic portion of the city funding is higher.
Recent university and college campuses built in Ontario over the last decade have included contributions from municipalities in order to establish and boost the profile of the campus. Examples include Markham donating land and money ($25 million) to York University in downtown Markham, and Milton donating land for the proposed Wilfrid Laurier campus.
It is up to council to decide how funds for this investment strategy would be gathered. The city report says it could fund via development charges, a community investment fund, cash in-lieu of parkland from developments, a dedicated tax levy (similar to the Peel Memorial fund), and debt.