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Barrie mayor expects answer this spring regarding university campus

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

An artist's rendering of what the Laurentian University campus in Barrie was supposed to look like. On Friday, Laurentian announced it was pulling out of Barrie.
LAURENTIAN IMAGE

An artist's rendering of what the Laurentian University campus in Barrie was supposed to look like. On Friday, Laurentian announced it was pulling out of Barrie. LAURENTIAN IMAGE

The word on a new Barrie university campus is close.

Mayor Jeff Lehman said Thursday morning he's expecting an answer from the Ontario government soon.

“I'm told we will he hearing this spring,” said Lehman at the Mayor's Progress Breakfast, held at Liberty North on Caplan Avenue in the south end.

Ontario's Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities is expected to make decisions about new university campuses and increasing degree capacity, along with funding, in 2015.

Laurentian University has proposal an academic facility with a capital cost of $97.4 million. It would assemble 64 acres of vacant land on Essa Road for the campus. The four properties are 50 Wood St., the former Devilbis Plant, 273 Tiffin St., the former 911 Office, 175 Essa Rd., the former Barrie Fairgrounds and 199 Essa Rd., the vacant plaza.

The Barrie campus would be a 225,000-square-foot facility to serve 3,100 full-time equivalent students. It would include facilities for athletics and recreation, residence space to house 500 to 750 students, and a student centre to be financed by ancillary fees.

The university campus would have faculty of 70-plus, in addition to 75 full-time staff. If all goes well it would open in September, 2018.

Barrie city council has committed $14 million, over a decade, to the project's capital costs.

When Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne was in Barrie last month, she told the Examiner her government received 19 requests for proposal by the Sept. 26 deadline for the province's support to build three new university campuses.

The Liberals made an election promise to eventually open the new campuses during the 2011 Ontario election campaign.

Wynne said in March she expected a decision within months.

Lakehead University and Georgian College have announced plans to offer more undergraduate degrees, and have submitted a proposal to the province's major capacity expansion fund.

June 20 is the last day of spring.

 

bob.bruton@sunmedia.ca