Contracts signed with appointed facilitators, agriculture minister confirms
By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
Ontario Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal said in an interview with Farms.com that the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs have signed contracts with two facilitators appointed to assist communities in Eastern, Ontario, to find a viable solution to keep their agricultural schools open.
The contracts were signed yesterday, July 9, 2014.
“I had the opportunity just yesterday to meet with the facilitators,” said Leal. “We had a very productive discussion.”
In March, the University of Guelph announced it would close its Ontario Agricultural College satellite campuses - Kemptville and Alfred - by 2015 citing financial reasons. Since then, two task forces for each college have been looking at options to keep the schools operational.
The provincial government appointed facilitator Lyle Vanclief to work with community stakeholders in Kemptville, and Mar Godbout to work with the province’s only post-secondary institution that offers a French-language diploma in agriculture – Campus d’Alfred.
Facilitators were announced prior to the June 12 provincial election but the process was put on hold until the election commenced. Ontario’s top bureaucrat Peter Wallace, Secretary of Cabinet Office, told the government that no new money could be spent during an election period. When facilitators are appointed by a government, they are reimbursed for their time and expenses.
The minister says that facilitators want to hear from those who have a vested interest in the colleges. “We want to listen to everybody,” he said. “There’s no monopoly on good ideas,” adding that he is looking forward to the various recommendations that will be put forward by the facilitators, hopefully later this fall.
When asked about when he plans to tour the campuses, the minister said, “I plan to visit Kemptville and Alfred at the first available opportunity.”
The Renewal Task Force for Kemptville College will host a Town Hall Meeting next week [July 16, 2014], to discuss proposals from alternative service providers who have expressed interest in taking over the college. More details about the event can be found on the task force’s website.