As Warden of the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry, but more importantly as a young Ontarian, I am very concerned about the recent announcement by the University of Guelph to close our two vital agricultural campuses in Kemptville and Alfred.
Simply put, the decision is devastating to our region and short-sighted. The Province of Ontario needs to step in immediately to find a solution. These institutions provide jobs, economic development stimulus, post-secondary education in the growing agri-food sector, and access to an education close to home. We need these campuses to stay open. If the Ontario government is serious about those issues, this is a perfect chance to prove it.
Most urgently, a two year moratorium should be put in place to allow the local community to develop and explore options to keep the campuses growing and thriving in Kemptville and Alfred. Without the continuation of new students attending these campuses in the fall, it would be hard to recover and reinstitute programming here in Eastern Ontario.
On October 7, 2013, the Premier, in her capacity as Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, challenged the agriculture and agri-food sector to double its growth rate and create 120,000 new jobs in Ontario by 2020. I am very supportive of that goal and objective as it would mean more jobs in rural communities like SD&G.
Let’s hit the pause button, work together cooperatively, and find a local, long-term solution that will ensure that the Kemptville and Alfred College campuses remain vibrant for future generations.
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