Councillors request report on funding university study

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City council has commissioned a report to determine what it will take to free up $55,000 to help pay for a feasibility study that will aim to further research the idea of seeing a university placed in Cornwall.

Local business people including Gerry Benson, and Tom and Gail Kaneb were before city council Monday night, lobbying for the money which will be used for the research phase of the project at a cost of $75,000.

They are part of a steering committee that is also lobbying the provincial government to agree to sanction the creation of a university in the city.

“Every kid deserves a chance to be all he or she can be,” said Gail Kaneb.

Council has sent the request to administrators for a report.

Coun. Glen Grant suggested there is support for providing some kind of financial contribution to the project.

“I haven’t heard one person around this table speak negatively of it,” said Grant, but he added there is some skepticism in the community about how successful the plan will ultimately be. “We have to start winning over people in our community. There are a lot of cynical people in our community when it comes to a university.”

And there is also some question about whether the city can afford the request.

Coun. Denis Thibault suggested splitting the $75,000 feasibility study bill among Akwesasne ($15,000), the city ($30,000) and the United Counties ($30,000).

Coun. Andre Rivette was supportive of that idea.

“If we’re going to be partners, we have to be partners all around,” he said, adding the city economic development department should look to find the municipal share.

The steering committee is currently asking for $20,000 total from the counties and Akwesasne.

Gail Kaneb said if the city can’t support the request, it’s unlikely the steering committee can proceed given that Queen’s Park has suggested local political will needs to be evident.

The province has indicated it plans on creating a handful of universities in Ontario.

Mayor Bob Kilger said the city has little choice.

"We cannot afford to not do this," he said.

Geographic location: Cornwall

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