Town­ship tries to res­ur­rect Kemptville

The Glengarry News - - Our Country Correspond­ents - News The News.

BY STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON

Staff Lo­cal farm fam­i­lies who are up­set over the Univer­sity of Guelph’s de­ci­sion to dis­con­tinue agri­cul­ture cour­ses in Kemptville can take heart that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of North Grenville is do­ing its part to en­sure the col­lege re­mains a vi­able ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion.

Late last month, Jeff Leal, Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture, Food and Ru­ral Af­fairs, stated that the Kemptville cam­pus would be trans­ferred to North Grenville.

“This is a crit­i­cal mile­stone for the fu­ture of a com­pletely new model in de­liv­er­ing post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion in On­tario,” Kemptville Col­lege Re­newal Task Force vice-chair­man Marty Derks said on the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s web­site ear­lier this month.

Ac­cord­ing to Brian Carré, CAO of North Grenville, the new model will be a multi-in­sti­tu­tional col­lege.

“We’ll be open to work­ing with a num­ber of in­sti­tu­tions,” Mr. Carré told “Agri­cul­ture will be a big part of it but it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily have to be all agri­cul­ture. There could be trade schools.”

Although he hopes the re­vamped cam­pus will be a hub for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and will give en­trepreneur­s a hand in start­ing their busi­nesses, he also wants the cam­pus to main- tain the tra­di­tion of tak­ing care of the com­mu­nity’s agri­cul­tural ed­u­ca­tion needs.

“The agri­cul­tural sec­tor is say­ing we need a more mod­ern and ro­bust train­ing cen­tre to ed­u­cate fu­ture farm­ers,” he says, adding that grad­u­ates should be able to en­ter an agri­cul­tural ca­reer in Eastern On­tario with all the knowl­edge they need to op­er­ate a mod­ern farm.

Last March, the Univer­sity of Guelph an­nounced it would sus­pend its agri­cul­ture pro­grams in Kemptville, cit­ing low en­rol­ment and poor pro­gram de­liv­ery. Kemptville had been af­fil­i­ated with the univer­sity since 1997.

Things changed in April when the On­tario gov­ern­ment pro­vided – in the words of for­mer Cana­dian agri­cul­ture min­is­ter Lyle Vanclief, who was com­mis­sioned to write a re­port on Kemptville by the On­tario Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Food and Ru­ral Af­fairs (OMAFRA) – “up to $2 mil­lion” to the univer­sity to ex­tend Kemptville’s oper­a­tions for one year. Un­for­tu­nately for the farm­ing com­mu­nity, agri­cul­ture, food science, hor­ti­cul­ture and equine de­vel­op­ment were not in­cluded in that ex­ten­sion.

In any case, the Kemptville cam­pus cer­tainly isn’t lack­ing in agri­cul­ture- spe­cific fa­cil­i­ties. Ac­cord­ing to Mr. Vanclief’s re­port, the 847- acre cam­pus in­cludes equine fa­cil­i­ties, a ro­botic milker, and 340 acres of forested land, some of which is used for maple syrup pro­duc­tion.

At the same time, the re­port stated that although the build­ings on cam­pus are in rel­a­tively good con­di­tion, a 2010 Univer­sity of Guelph as­sess­ment in­di­cated that 13 of build­ings would re­quire $17 mil­lion in up­grades just to bring them up to stan­dard. (It should also be noted that much of this work has al­ready been com­pleted.)

Leeds- Grenville MPP Steve Clark, a Con­ser­va­tive, ap­plauds the gov­ern­ment for tak­ing steps to trans­fer the Kemptville cam­pus to North Grenville, though he wishes the Lib­er­als gave Kemptville a two-year mora­to­rium while the gov­ern­ment, univer­sity and mu­nic­i­pal­ity ne­go­ti­ated.

He says it’s not a good time to be dis­con­tin­u­ing any sort of agri­cul­tural train­ing.

“For ev­ery three agri­cul­tural jobs avail­able, we’re only sup­ply­ing one grad­u­ate to fill those jobs,” he says.

He added that On­tario’s Min­istry of Train­ing, Col­leges and Univer­si­ties should have funded the agri­cul­ture pro­gram at Kemptville so that stu­dents can en­rol there in 2015.

“Premier Kath­leen Wynne says she wants to cre­ate 120,000 agri­cul­ture jobs,” he says. “How can you do that when you’re cut­ting back on agri­cul­ture pro­grams?”

In 2013, while at­tend­ing the Premier’s Sum­mit on Agri-Food In­no­va­tion at Queen’s Park, Ms. Wynne chal­lenged the agri-food sec­tor to cre­ate 120,000 new jobs in On­tario by 2020.

WENDY BESWICK PHOTO

Jac­ques St. Louis still proudly dis­plays the fam­ily farm sign on his im­mac­u­lately kept barn that was built in the 1950s south­east of Maxville. Lo­cated on a cor­ner close to the road, the barn makes an im­pres­sive sight with the an­cient maple in front....

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