$39M now secured for Laurentian University campus in Barrie

New website outlines Laurentian proposal to serve 3,100 full-time students

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June 23rd, 2014 – Laurentian University’s Board of Governors has approved a commitment of $25 million toward the proposed stand-alone university campus in the City of Barrie. This pledge represents a significant increase to Laurentian University’s 2011 commitment for the Barrie campus, and the amount would be enhanced by the $14M already committed by the City of Barrie for a standalone campus.


Barrie City Councillors today unanimously reaffirmed their strong support for Laurentian’s proposed Barrie campus, a 225,000 sq ft academic facility to serve 3,100 full-time equivalent students.


“We are pleased to see Barrie’s City Councillors reiterating their support for the Laurentian campus in Barrie,” said Laurentian University President and Vice-Chancellor, Dominic Giroux. “We have worked diligently with the City since 2010 to realize the community’s vision for a stand-alone university campus. We believe it is an exciting vision, and we are committed to its success.”


Laurentian will present its formal proposal for the Barrie campus in accordance with the provincial government’s Request for Proposals for Major Capacity Expansion. The province is expected to issue decisions in 2015.


Meanwhile, Laurentian continues talks to jointly develop 64 acres of vacant land on Essa Road that would meet the needs of a university student population in an urban campus environment. Laurentian’s Barrie campus would include facilities for athletics and recreation, residence space to house 500 to 750 students, and a student centre to be financed by ancillary fees.


“We feel the site is ideal for its access to downtown and to key transit links, and for its ability to serve as a focal point for Barrie’s future development,” said Craig Fowler, Associate Vice-President, Administration and External Relations for Laurentian University’s Barrie campus. “It provides room to grow, and the campus development will create an exciting new gateway to the city.”


Proposed programs at Laurentian’s Barrie campus would originate from five of the University’s faculties: Arts; Health; Graduate Studies; Management; Science, Engineering and Architecture. Programs in Barrie are being developed specifically for the community, with Barrie’s current and future economic growth in mind.


Laurentian University has been delivering programs in Barrie since 2001 in partnership with Georgian College. It now counts close to 3,000 alumni in the Barrie area, and employs approximately 70 faculty and staff. Laurentian University is also committed to a continuing positive relationship with Georgian College to plan post-secondary expansion in Barrie.


“We have a long history of success in our work with Georgian and five other Ontario colleges, and we share a firm commitment to access and mobility for post-secondary students who will benefit from degree studies,” said President Giroux.


“I believe that Barrie deserves an outstanding university campus offering four-year university degrees and graduate programs right here in our community,” said Karen Hansen, owner of Pratt Homes and member of the Board of Governors of Laurentian University. “Barrie has proudly supported major transformations in Barrie, including the expansion of the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, the Simcoe-Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre and Georgian College, which have had very positive long-term impacts. A stand-alone university campus is the next logical step.”


“For a city of Barrie’s size and potential, it really is a necessity to have a stand-alone university campus to fulfill the aspirations of our students,” said Laurentian University Board of Governors member Rose Adams of Adams Law in Barrie, “We are the largest metropolitan area in Canada without a university campus. So, yes, it’s time for Laurentian’s Barrie campus,” said Adams.


“A stand-alone Laurentian University campus will drive the creativity and innovation that Barrie needs to stimulate its long-term prosperity. Research and commercialization of discoveries in our areas of strength will help to diversify the local economy and build our future,” said Jon Babulic, outgoing member of the Board of Governors of Laurentian University, former Chief Administrative Officer of the City of Barrie and former Chair of the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre.


88% of first-year university registrants from Simcoe County leave the region to pursue university studies. This proportion is growing. Each year, only about 100 out of 45,000 first-year university registrants from the GTA choose a university program offered in Simcoe County.


“These trends speak to the fact that students from Barrie, the rest of Simcoe County and the GTA are looking for a stand-alone university campus to pursue their aspirations. They need a comprehensive range of four-year university programs, and the opportunity to develop a strong sense of belonging to their university”, said Claudette Paquin, member of the Board of Governors of Laurentian University and a former Vice-President at Cogeco Cable Canada.


The University has launched a new website to provide all members of the Barrie community with further details about the proposed campus: www.itstimebarrie.ca



  • There are 97 universities in Canada. Barrie is Canada’s 34th largest municipality in Canada by population, yet does not have its own stand-alone university campus. Barrie is also the 21st largest census metropolitan area in Canada and the largest in Canada without a university campus.


  • The Province of Ontario has designated Barrie as an urban growth centre, the only one in Simcoe County.


  • Small to mid-size Canadian municipalities with stand-alone university campuses include Regina, Sherbrooke, Kelowna, Abbotsford-Mission, Oshawa, Kingston, St. Catharines, Trois-Rivières, Moncton, Guelph, Brantford, Saint John, Peterborough, Lethbridge, Cape Breton, Kamloops, Nanaimo, Fredericton, Prince George, Sault Ste. Marie, Charlottetown, and Rimouski.


  • An April 2014 economic impact study by KPMG, commissioned by Laurentian University, estimates that the initial construction phase of the Laurentian campus will generate $182 million in total economic activity in Barrie.


  • The KPMG study also estimates that ongoing campus operations will generate $70 million in annual total economic activity and support almost 425 employment positions per year, with increased revenues for the City of Barrie in the form of direct revenues, while indirect revenues derived from municipal taxes on student accommodations could be as much as $2.9 million annually.


  • Laurentian was first invited in May 2010 by then City Councillor Jeff Lehman to present to Council a vision for a Laurentian University satellite campus in downtown Barrie, with Georgian College supporting the relocation of Laurentian University programs downtown. Council supported this vision, which led Laurentian University to deem the project a top priority in its 10-year capital plan submitted to the Province in June 2010.


  • In 2011, Laurentian’s strategic planning consultations, involving numerous community organizations, confirmed strong support in Barrie for a stand-alone university campus.


  • In mid-2011, Laurentian pledged $14 million toward the project. In November 2011, City Council agreed to provide a matching contribution of $14 million to a university successful in a provincial RFP and matching this contribution from its own sources. Shortly afterward, Georgian College reaffirmed its support for Mayor Lehman and Council’s vision for a university campus in Barrie.


  • On June 20th, 2014, Laurentian University’s Board of Governors voted to increase Laurentian’s commitment to the Barrie campus, raising the pledge to $25 million. 


  • Laurentian University has already made multi-million dollar investments in the capital project, conducting community consultations and site selection, as well as market, environmental and geotechnical assessments of numerous potential sites.


  • Laurentian University delivers programs in partnership with six Ontario colleges, and is an acknowledged leader in facilitating the transfer of college students to degree studies, with student-centred policies on prior learning.


  • Since 2012, Laurentian University’s President has served as co-chair of the Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer (ONCAT), an organization that includes all of Ontario’s 44 colleges and universities and is aimed at improving student mobility within the postsecondary education sector.


  • During a visit to Barrie in August 2013, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne commented that “Barrie is making a very strong case” for a university campus.


  • The provincial government’s Request for Proposals for Major Capacity Expansion has invited Ontario universities to lead proposals for new post-secondary capacity in the province. Outcomes in this process are expected in 2015.