The Ontario government has set up its working group to consider options for the Ontario Agricultural College’s Kemptville campus beyond this year.
The University of Guelph, which operates OAC, announced in spring 2014 it would wind down operations at its Kemptville and Alfred satellite campuses and consolidate its ag education and research operations at its Guelph and Ridgetown campuses by the end of 2015.
The province in January pledged to work with local municipalities to “determine options for a sustainable path forward” for ag education in eastern Ontario involving the Kemptville and Alfred campuses.
To that end, the province said then it would set up a “working group to explore new models for delivering agricultural learning, training and instruction” at Kemptville.
The working group, whose establishment was announced Wednesday, is to include representatives from the University of Guelph, Municipality of North Grenville, United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, the provincial agriculture ministry and the provincial training, colleges and universities ministry.
The province said Wednesday its working group “will explore what courses and programs could be offered at the campus, as well as which organizations could help deliver them.”
The group is also expected to look at ways for the Kemptville campus to continue to focus on ag and food education, while considering offering courses in health and wellness, business and trades training, the province said.
The working group is expected to submit its findings in late fall this year.
“We see the group’s efforts as forming the basis of a sustainable business plan leading to a not-for-profit corporation to renew and redevelop Kempvtille campus into an educational and multi-institutional campus relevant to eastern Ontario,” North Grenville Mayor David Gordon said in a provincial release Wednesday.
The province’s aim in this process is to help secure a “long-term solution” for the two campuses, Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal said in the same release, but added “the future of the Kemptville campus must be based on a fully sustainable, sound business plan.”
The campus’ land and facilities today are owned by the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO); the province said in January it would negotiate with North Grenville to transfer the Kemptville property to the municipality.
Acting as a provincially appointed facilitator, former federal ag minister Lyle Vanclief in late 2014 prepared a report on the Kemptville site, noting “several” proposals had been received for use of parts of the campus, some of which are “mutually exclusive of others.”
Vanclief urged the province to steer clear of “short-term” decisions to lease or turn over property or buildings to any one group permanently or long-term, which he said could “limit the potential for renewal of the campus for future education and community development purposes.”
Given “a sufficient number of years” with a non-profit organization acting as a landlord, manager and potential owner, he said, the Kemptville campus has potential to develop as “a diverse community and educational centre for eastern Ontario.”
No “specific” proposals had yet been received for use of the campus’ farmland, forested land or dairy, equine or maple syrup facilities, Vanclief said at the time. — AGCanada.com Network