Corp Comm Connects

Wilfrid Laurier University Expansion: EDUCATING MILTON

July 9, 2014
Leah Wong

Milton is getting closer to its goal of being home to a post-secondary institution. Halton Region council will vote on staff recommendations to endorse Wilfrid Laurier University’s submission to create a new campus in Milton Wednesday. And in September Laurier will make a submission to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Milton has pledged to donate a 150-acre parcel of land, located within the proposed 400-acre Milton Education Village, to Wilfrid Laurier. Located west of Tremaine Road, between Derry Road and Brittania Road, the area is currently under development with the Mattamy National Cycling Centre—the velodrome being constructed for the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan American Games.

The velodrome is located in the centre of the education village and adjacent to a major road running through the middle of the site. If Laurier receives approval from the province to move forward the campus will be located adjacent to the velodrome.

While there has been minimal development on this site, Milton economic development senior manager Andrew Siltala said that there are fully developed communities to the west and north of the site.

“The key to the whole project is that there is 400 acres on which a specifically designed and specifically built neighbourhood will be [created] around the campus,” said Siltala. Retail and offices are included in the site plan as are business and research parks.

“This is much more than a standalone university building, it’s a complete community,” said Siltala, adding that the location will be desirable for attracting new business.

Families in Milton are young and well-educated and are interested in attaining high educational status.

“We will have a demand coming from inside Milton that will be a significant contributor to the population of the university,” said Siltala.

The initial plan for the campus will be for about 2,500 students, though it will have the capacity for up to 15,000 students to be added over several decades. Wilfrid Laurier University president and vice-chancellor Dr. Max Blouw told NRU that developing a university campus involves thinking long-term about how it will be successful over centuries.

“Milton is Canada’s fastest growing municipal area and it has a high need for access to degree-level education,” said Blouw. “And it will continue to grow.”

Blouw also said that the location within Milton is ideally situated for Laurier. With campuses in Waterloo and Brantford, as well as operations in Kitchener and Toronto, Laurier already has campuses spread across a number of different municipalities. Adding a campus in Milton allows Laurier to expand while keeping its campuses small.

“It enables the university to retain the wonderful undergraduate student experience for which we’re so well know,” said Blouw. “In a multi-campus context the university can grow while making the experience at each campus very supportive, community-oriented and highly engaged.”