Township tries to resurrect Kemptville
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.
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....