Abandoned Guelph prison could house college campus
An abandoned prison in the northeast end of Guelph could house a Conestoga College campus if a new proposal gets provincial approval.
The province is looking to create three new satellite college campuses, and Conestoga College would like to build one in Guelph.
The college is looking at the old Ontario Reformatory on York Road, which was once the biggest prison in the province, as the potential new site.
The prison closed in 2001, and if all goes according to plan, it could host the college's $67-million expansion.
John Tibbits, Conestoga College president, says "Guelph is one of the larger cities in Ontario that doesn't really have a full-fledged college campus."
And Conestoga has experience in this area, having just completed a similar size expansion in Cambridge.
"I do think there is a demand, and I think we have a track record to demonstrate that not only can we build it on time, but develop the programming and attract the students to come to the college," Tibbits says.
The plan includes a 200,000 square foot set of buildings that would house 2,000 full-time and 1,500 part-time students. It would offer courses in agriculture and food, alternative energy and advances in manufacturing.
Peter Cartwright, general manager of Guelph Economic Development, says "We've taken a look at the numbers that have supplied by Conestoga College, and they've indicated there's a demand for those types of services. So what we need to do now is work with them and demonstrate the business case for the college."
The city would like to see the college be an anchor tenant in what is being called the ‘innovation district,' an area that would hopefully draw entrepreneurial companies.
Tibbits says the first hurdle is seeing who the next provincial minister of colleges and universities is, a position that's been held by Kitchener Centre MPP John Milloy.
Then the lobbying will begin.
If approved, the campus could open by the spring of 2014.