Cornwall: Future-Ready, Forward-Looking, and Focused on Growth

Mayor Justin Towndale and Councillors Fred Ngoundjo, Sarah Good, Syd Gardiner, and Todd Bennett
Cornwall: Future-Ready, Forward-Looking, and Focused on Growth
(Photo : istock)

When we gathered with fellow councillors late last year to discuss what we wanted to accomplish by the end of this term, it quickly became clear that we had consensus on at least one point: Cornwall’s future and our socio-economic well-being requires us to keep more of our young people from fleeing to bigger centres for opportunity.

We need to give them more and better options to make their lives here at home.

In our strategic plan, passed unanimously in January, we directed city staff and senior management to engage with university officials and explore how we can develop a university presence with programs offered locally. That work is now underway.

Next week, we will present a motion that takes this work to the next level. We’ll be urging our colleagues to support moving forward with a formal business plan to make the long-held dream of having university offerings locally a reality.

We feel this was a priority because, more than ever, cities need to compete to retain top talent and attract family-rearing-aged professionals to ensure growth, investment, and quality of life improvements.

For cities that are transitioning away from an industrial past, this is especially true. We need more young strivers and high-earning people to Choose Cornwall to live, work, and play.

A business case is an important next step. It’s something that any post-secondary institution will want to see before getting serious about choosing Cornwall themselves.

We believe that Cornwall’s socio-economic transformation is in no small measure dependent on our ability to become a specialized knowledge hub for research. There is quite likely a case for a wide variety of courses and programs to be offered here, from across disciplines.

We have so much to offer young people from other places – including greater affordability, accessibility, and quality of life than Toronto, Ottawa, or Montreal. And keeping homegrown students here for their studies (and beyond) is good for our collective prosperity and community resilience.

Young people who already have roots in our community will have an immediately vested interest in seeing it thrive for the long term.

Our community is growing now. But to go from surviving to thriving, we need solid economic generators like our post-secondary educational offerings to keep pace.

St. Lawrence College serves a vital role in our community. University courses and programs, perhaps on a dedicated campus, could further contribute to developing the workforce of the future and the economic and community leaders of tomorrow.

As the City’s senior leaders embark on discussions with uOttawa and others, we will need to demonstrate local demand for these offerings, close to home.

A business case and public input will be important next steps. They’re ones we hope we can take with our colleagues’ blessing next week.

Like the residents we represent, we are future-focused, forward-looking, and focused on growth.

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