Ontario’s universities are creating jobs and stimulating economic and social renewal by helping to revitalize local communities.
A new era for post-industrial Brantford
In the late 1990s, Brantford was devastated by the collapse of a once-thriving manufacturing sector. That changed in 1999 when Wilfrid Laurier University embarked on an experiment in urban renewal, opening a small satellite campus in Brantford’s downtown. Eighteen years later, Brantford’s downtown core has been reborn as a bustling centre of cultural, academic and social activity. Laurier’s campus is home to more than 3,000 students, and the university has spent an estimated $80 million on building a downtown campus that spreads to more than 17 buildings. The private sector has followed suit, adding new student residences, a public plaza and new businesses to account for the budding student population. Laurier continues to expand into Brantford’s downtown, and a state-of-the art Laurier Brantford-YMCA athletics facility opened in summer 2018.
Spreading prosperity from Thunder Bay to Orillia
Lakehead University’s Orillia campus has had a strong community partnership with the County of Simcoe since it opened in 2006. For the county’s growing number of residents, Lakehead’s campus has allowed many local students to live at home while attending university, helping improve access to postsecondary education. Simcoe County, home to more than 475,000 people, is a popular destination for immigrants, with more than 100 mother tongues spoken in the region; both newcomers and lifelong Simcoe County residents have embraced the Lakehead campus, which has contributed significantly to the region’s economy, with an estimated $40-million economic impact. The campus has grown from just 100 students in 2006 to almost 1,500 in 2016, added many new academic programs, including those in partnership with Georgian College, as well as graduate level programs.
Bringing new life to barren mining landscapes
Past mining activity in the Greater Sudbury area has left behind large wastelands in need of reclamation. Laurentian University’s L-Care project is looking at how to reclaim those barren lands while reducing the local mining industry’s carbon footprint. L-Care (Landscape Carbon Accumulation through Reductions in Emissions) is investigating how to manage the reclamation of more than 30,000 hectares as part of a carbon sequestration strategy in relation to extensive hard rock mining. It’s estimated that the carbon storage potential of these barren and semi-barren lands could be enough to balance 10 years of carbon emissions by local industry, while creating biodiverse ecosytems. The project’s research partners include the City of Sudbury and local mining companies Vale Canada and Glencore.