By Maggie Macintosh
Ryerson University’s president is optimistic about a future expansion to Brampton despite the province pulling millions in funding for the project last week.
The Ontario government revoked its $90-million commitment toward a Ryerson-Sheridan College satellite campus in Brampton, citing a hefty deficit.
In a press release published Oct. 23, the province announced it was also slashing funding commitments toward the York University-Seneca College campus in Markham, Ont. and the Wilfrid Laurier-Conestoga College campus in Milton, Ont.
Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi said he was surprised by the Progressive Conservative government’s decision to strip the funding. “But after the surprise, you have to think about what’s next and try to build a better future for our institution [and] also a better future for the youth in the City of Brampton,” Lachemi said.
Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario’s minister of training, colleges and universities, said Ontario is “no longer in a position” to fund the expansions due to a $15-billion deficit.
“We promised the people of Ontario to restore accountability and trust in Ontario’s finances. Part of that process means making tough decisions about projects across Ontario,” Fullerton said in a statement to The Eye.
She said the Tories are cleaning up the former Liberal government’s “reckless” financial decisions, including the $325 million promised for the three campus expansions in the GTA.
Lachemi said it’s too early to know for sure whether the expansion has been cancelled completely or whether it’s simply been delayed. It’s also unclear whether the funding cuts are temporary or permanent, he said.
The university, Lachemi added, still has a “big vision for Brampton.”
Ryerson’s Brampton campus was anticipated to open in the fall of 2022, offering data-driven science and business programs. It was also going to be home to Cybersecurity Catalyst, a national centre for cybersecurity innovation.
Charles Finlay, executive director of the centre, did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication. Brampton’s city council pledged $150 million toward the project.
Amarjot Sandhu and Prabmeet Sarkaria, MPPs for Brampton West and Brampton South, respectively, said in a joint statement the province is willing to consider a business case for how the campus expansions can proceed in the absence of provincial capital funding.
“Brampton deserves a thoughtful, sustainable proposal to bring post-secondary education to our city,” they said in a Facebook post.
“Together, we remain committed to working with stakeholders to make this happen.”
Brampton mayor-elect Patrick Brown did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.