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Province denies proposal for new French language campus in southern Ontario

Photo: CC Woodstock

The proposal came in response to an expansion policy initiated in 2013 by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU). The policy’s stated aim is to make sure there is ample room for the growing number of post-secondary students in the province.

“It is essential to ensure that in future, the right spaces are created in the right places for Ontario’s students,” according to the outline for the initiative.

Several other expansion ideas were also put forward as a result of the policy. The U of O proposed a new health sciences building, while Carleton put forward ideas for a new health sciences building, and new headquarters for its business programs.

La Cité collégiale looked to create a French-language trades training centre in Toronto.

York University and Seneca College looked to build a 4000 student campus together, which was the only proposal that the province approved

This joint campus will be constructed in Markham, and will be the first university campus in the area.

The U of O planned to create a French and French-immersion campus that would’ve offered undergraduate programs as well as specialized trade programs in Woodstock.

Many residents of Woodstock were enthusiastic about the possibility. “Downtown Woodstock has all the necessary ingredients to quickly create a dynamic university campus and City Council is excited by this opportunity to further revitalize the downtown,” said former Woodstock mayor Pat Sobeski in a 2014 press release.

Belinda Bien, spokeswoman for Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Reza Moridi, told the Ottawa Citizen that the government had been prepared to accept more proposals, but only one met their criteria. In the call for proposals, the province wrote that it wanted projects that would see large growth over the next 20 years, and Bien said the Woodstock campus would not have satisfied the current requirements.

Despite the setback, all is not lost for a partnership between the U of O and Woodstock.

“Our plan is to continue to work with the University of Ottawa on a satellite campus here in Woodstock. Through this process we think we’ve exposed great potential here in the city to create a campus in the downtown,” Brad Hammond, Woodstock’s development officer told the Woodstock Sentinel Review.

The province will be putting out another call for proposals next year.

Woodstock mayor Trevor Birtch told the Sentinel Review “2017 is still a possibility for Woodstock.”