partnering on building
strong communities
Supporting thriving communities through high-quality municipal and social services, improved infrastructure and transit, well-served rural areas and dynamic arts and culture.
“Postsecondary completely changed our culture, it completely changed our focus. It has been the catalyst for the revitalization we are seeing throughout the entire city.”
Brantford Mayor Chris Friel, talking about how Wilfrid Laurier University’s Brantford campus, which opened in 1999, changed his city.

The Issue

Ontario is home to broad mix of vibrant communities that make the province a great place to live. But Ontario’s communities today also face a range of challenges – from strains on transit and housing, to out-of-date digital infrastructure, to declining populations. It will take increased partnership and cooperation among educators, planners, employers, government and more to face these challenges and ensure all Ontarians benefit from healthy and thriving communities.

The Background

  • Strong communities are the heartbeat of the province. They are places where Ontarians can start a business, enjoy enriching arts and culture, be active and raise a family.
  • Ontarians are rightfully proud of their communities, whether it’s a city, suburb or rural town.
  • But Ontario’s communities are confronting significant challenges. Crowded highways and overburdened transit are costing the economy and keeping Ontarians away from their home and stuck in a commute. Meanwhile, rural and Aboriginal communities sometimes lack the necessary infrastructure, including broadband access, to take full advantage of the advances taking place in Ontario’s economy.
  • Universities are partners in facing these challenges, and regularly work with government and community partners to offer research and expertise that help lead to better outcomes for all: livable cities, faster commutes, affordable housing, thriving arts and sports scenes, customer-friendly public services and beautified streetscapes.
  • Communities draw from the expertise at universities, often calling on faculty research to inform policy decisions. And universities gain strength from their communities, whose employers, governments and neighbourhood organizations offer vital support to students and regularly partner with faculty on research projects.
  • Ontario’s universities have a $115-billion impact on Ontario’s economy, much of which takes the form of spending in our communities. And as part of a well-rounded education, we encourage students opportunities to volunteer and work with community partners.
  • Today’s universities strive to be more than centres of learning. They are integrated into the social fabric of their community, serving local citizens and partnering with local institutions and businesses to improve quality of life for all.
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What We Heard
Learn more about what Ontarians had to say about building strong communities.

Key Facts about Building Communities

What Ontario Universities
Are Doing

Ontario’s universities are committed to working with local partners to strengthen both the community they are part of and others across the province.

 

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University researchers help strengthen communities through work that includes looking at the potential economic and social outcomes of broadband infrastructure in southwestern Ontario, offering the public policy expertise in debates around housing and transit, and helping young Aboriginal students’ progress toward a postsecondary education

Universities educate the artists and performers, and support the cultural centres and galleries, that inspire our imaginations and add more than $25 billion to the provincial economy.

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Our students and faculty also regularly volunteer in the community, creating new bonds and partnerships with local residents, and offer spaces for people to come together, contributing their people and facilities to help promote active lifestyle and literacy in their communities.

How Government Can Help
  • Encourage a vibrant flow of ideas

    Work with universities, local governments and communities to encourage a vibrant flow of ideas and research that helps spur new thinking and develop solutions to local issues.

  • Ensure high quality of life for every community

    Ensure communities, both urban and rural, and particularly in Northern and remote regions, have the services and infrastructure, such as quality Internet access and strong transit, that ensure high quality of life and prosperity.

  • Develop a Northern Ontario strategy

    Develop a Northern Ontario strategy that includes:

    • Incentives for students and graduates to study, stay and work in Northern communities;
    • Sustained funding for the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, including funding for research facilities and equipment;
    • Establishing a Northern Ontario Research Chair to focus research on issues particular to the region.
Partnering for a Better Future
By creating strong partnerships across different sectors, sharing knowledge and expertise, building up our arts and culture, and investing in rural and Aboriginal communities, Ontario can ensure all Ontarians live in vibrant communities with the necessary resources to participate in today’s technology-driven economy.
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Access

Learn more about how universities are committed to ensuring each student can access postsecondary institutions.

Report
In It Together

The College Student Alliance, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, Colleges Ontario and the Council of Ontario Universities have come together to develop an action plan on post-secondary student mental health.

Report
Going Greener Report 2015

Ontario universities’ seventh annual Going Greener report highlights progress made by campus communities toward environmental sustainability.

Report
Deepening Our Relationship

In 2016, COU reached out to its membership to gather information on activities that support campus Indigenization.

read the report

In our report, you will find a comprehensive summary of what we heard from Ontarians and how Ontario's universities are working across all sectors to help students thrive, support our communities, and drive a growing, dynamic province.