“Let’s work together to make university a reality”

By Richard Mahoney

The following is a statement issued by Cornwall Mayor Justin Towndale on a proposed university campus.

By Mayor Justin Towndale

Soon after our successful 2022-2026 Council strategic planning session, I found myself thinking back to my final years in high school at St. Joe’s. I was getting closer to be heading to the University of Toronto to begin my studies in Political Science. I was excited, and nervous, to start something new, somewhere new.

Many of my classmates from my graduating class left Cornwall to pursue education outside the city. Today, more than 20 years later, many of our young people are doing the same. While we do wish them well, and want them to be able to pursue all the opportunities available to them, they often have to leave home in order to explore these opportunities.

This presents two realities. One that some of our youth must leave the city, and as they pursue their future, are less likely to move back. The second is that we also have youth in our community who are unable to pursue these opportunities outside of the city due to personal, or financial situations. In both cases, the community finds itself in a situation where our future generations are encountering difficult choices.

This is why I am pleased that our 2022-2026 strategic plan once again makes it a priority to secure university programs, and possibly a campus, locally. Work is already underway on this initiative. We’ve engaged with uOttawa, and others, with meaningful discussions and a viable starting point.

Cities like Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Lennoxville, Quebec, and North Bay here in Ontario are all examples of communities which host successful universities. As a comparator municipality, we have all their attributes: a welcoming population, a diversified socio-economic mix, and a clear vision for the future. In addition, we have a rich history of being one of the oldest, and most bilingual, communities in Ontario.

Cornwall is growing. As we grow, we need to ensure that the city is able to offer a suite of options for our residents, both new and old. A university plays a key role in this. There is a large amount of data which shows that universities have an immensely positive impact for their host communities. Students often look for work first in their city of study. Local students can access education without worrying about extra costs, like rent. A variety of good paying jobs are created. I can speak firsthand to this from my time working for the provincial Minister of the day who held the post secondary portfolio.

Right now, we are working to ensure that we can prove via a business case that it is the right time and right fit for a university in Cornwall. I know that  it is. But I cannot do this alone. Council cannot do this alone. We need the community’s involvement.

We have posted a white paper on the Have Your Say Cornwall platform. I would ask that you please take a moment to read it and to also share it. Let us know what programs and areas of study you would like to see in Cornwall and what areas you think would benefit future generations of youth in our community.

Let’s work together to make this a reality and set up our community and future generations for success.

Share this article