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Kemptville College Raised in Question Period

By Amanda Brodhagen,

On the first day of question period since Premier Kathleen Wynne won a majority government in the June 12 election, agriculture education, specifically the ongoing issue with the status of Kemptville College was raised.

Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark, stood up in the legislature Monday and asked the minister of agriculture, Jeff Leal, to provide assurance that the government will work with a new service provider to deliver agriculture programing in the eastern part of the province. Clark has been vocal about keeping the agricultural institution in his riding, Kemptville College, a satellite campus of the University of Guelph, open despite the university’s plan to abandon the college in 2015.

Clark noted that the Kemptville College Renewal Task Force (a group that was formed following the University of Guelph’s announcement to close the campus) aimed to find viable solution to the college’s future, plans to hold a public meeting this week, July 16, and asked for the minister to commit to listen to the community and work with the task force.

This is the question that Clark posed to the minister: “Can you assure us that your facilitator will implement our community's plan with any potential partner that comes out in that meeting?” He adds that several partners have already stepped forward including the Municipality of North Grenville, while other interested partners will be revealed at the upcoming public meeting.

Leal responded by saying that he will continue to work with all partners to come up with a solution for Kemptville College, and explained that the appointed facilitators will engage with community stakeholders. “Over the next number of weeks and months I will be listening carefully to the people in [the] Kemptville area and the people in the Alfred area to come up with the right solution for those wonderful agricultural institutions in Eastern Ontario,” he said.

Plans to revitalize the college were put on hold, at least on the government’s end, until after the provincial election. Facilitators were announced ahead of the election, but could not begin working on the file because the government’s top bureaucrat, cabinet secretary Peter Wallace said that the government cannot spend new money during an election period.  The facilitators sign a contract with the government and get paid for their time and expenses.

Leal was quoted in an interview with iPolitics shortly after his appointment as minister of agriculture saying that he plans to visit Kemptville College in the near future, explaining that this file is one of his top priories. The minister has not said if a date to visit the college has been set.

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