By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario - The decision to close the University of Guelph's Kemptville and Alfred campuses in eastern Ontario is being met with disdain by politicians in the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry.
MPP Jim McDonell
Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell is urging Premier Kathleen Wynne to issue a two-year reprieve before the unversity's agriculture-related regional campus programs are permanently closed.
"The Kemptville and Alfred agricultural colleges have served eastern Ontario with distinction for almost a century and can take much of the credit for the region’s success in the agri-food industry," said McDonell while at Queen's Park earlier today.
The Tory MPP claimed he was shocked when it was announced two weeks ago that the university was consolidating its academic and research programs delivered at its Kemptville and Alfred campuses without any prior public consultation.
"The community uproar was immediate and I believe caught this government by surprise," said McDonell.
He slammed the Ontario Liberal government for putting the blame on Guelph, since McDonell claims the university is currently trying to deal with the provincial cuts to post-secondary education.
Click here to read the university's statement on consolditaing its regional campus programs.
"No one believed that the Premier and Minister of Colleges and Universities were not part of this decision," he said.
Collège Boréal in Sudbury and La Cité Collègiale in Ottawa have agreed to take over the delivery of programs at the 97-year-old Kemptville College of Agricultural Technology's francophone sister college in Alfred. But that came as cold comfort to McDonell in contrast to Kemptville's future.
"The Alfred campus is likely to receive a lifeline from other Francophone institutions," he said. "However, no effort has been made by this government to save the much larger Kemptville College, in fact when I contacted St. Lawrence College (SLC) on that Wednesday, they were as shocked as everyone else."
Recently, reports have surfaced that there is growing interest from SLC and Algonquin College in Ottawa to run some of the college's programs.
"Speaker, the Minister has now asked the two neighbouring colleges to look into saving Kemptville, but this is an empty request without time for a proper response. So I ask the Premier, to immediately place a two year reprieve on the closure of the Kemptville and Alfred campuses, to allow time to investigate and develop a plan for the orderly transfer of assets, programs and students.
"Do the right thing Premier, as the Minister of Agriculture, stand up for our youth and the future of agricultural excellence in eastern Ontario."