Delegation to Whitchurch-Stouffville Town Council Proposal for a Satellite Campus of York University Arnold Neufeldt-Fast, PhD

March 11, 2014

York University has recently announced their desire to visit each of the nine York Region municipalities and to receive expressions of interest regarding a satellite campus.1 This presentation gives a rationale for full participation by the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville. A successful bid will require the formation of a steering committee with representation from the Town, the Chamber of Commerce, the broader community, as well as the academy.


Provincial objectives

In December 2013 the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and University published its long awaited “Major Capacity Expansion Policy Framework” with proposal criteria for postsecondary education expansion.2 The Province of Ontario is anticipating unprecedented levels of post-secondary enrollment growth. The greatest enrollment pressure for universities in Ontario is in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The three publicly funded GTA universities have very limited capacity to absorb more students onto their existing campuses. The province is specifically looking for municipalities where population growth is strongest, and where postsecondary access is limited. Milton, York Region, as well as the City of Barrie, are strong contenders. The province is inviting proposals by universities that will create new facilities larger than 70,000 square feet which can accommodate minimally 1,000 students in the short-term. Why York Region … and why Whitchurch-Stouffville?


York Region and Post-Secondary Education

York Region’s 2013 population was 1,118,931 – and is the only municipality of that size in North America without a university.3 Our region’s population grew 20% between 2006 and 2013 (= 189,031 people), far out-pacing other regions of Ontario. In the years ahead, the number of youth aged 15-19 living in York


Sean Pearce, “York University wants to set up York Region Campus,”, March 10, 2014 2 Ministry of Training, Colleges and University, “Major Capacity Expansion Policy Framework” (December 2013), 3 Pearce, “York University wants to set up York Region Campus,”, March 10, 2014.


Region is expected to grow from 75,120 today (2013) to 100,740 by 2036, with a total population for York Region of 1,655,290.4 The province knows that we need a university. York Region West The western edge of the GTA will almost certainly receive a new university campus. While Vaughan (2013: 313,490; 2006: 248,800) has experienced significant growth, its proximity to York University makes it an unlikely contender for a campus (a key criterion for provincial funding is new capacity where access is limited). Moreover, the western stretches of the GTA will almost certainly receive a new Wilfrid Laurier campus in Milton;5 Brampton too is advocating for a campus. York Region North Because of strong population growth since 2006, the north-eastern corner of York Region is a strong contender for a new GTA campus. The Town of East Gwillimbury has worked on visioning, location and design concepts over a number of years,6 and the town is prepared to donate land near its GO-Train station close to Newmarket (Newmarket, Aurora and Richmond Hill Councillors have also explored discussions with York University). Prior to 2013, the province was favouring proposals for large campuses (a minimum 100 acres). This however is no longer the provincial strategy. In competition to these visions in the “north” is another strong proposal by the City of Barrie and Laurentian University.7 Public transit is key for the province’s accessibility criterion. While GO-Train service to the East Gwillimbury site is a significant strength, this same GO-Train line already links East Gwillimbury, Newmarket, Aurora, King, Maple/Vaughan (as well as Barrie) to York University. For this reason, it is questionable whether an East Gwillimbury bid will fully meet the provincial accessibility criterion (Barrie, because of its distance to York University, may have a stronger argument). York Region East Markham and Whitchurch-Stouffville are the furthest municipalities from any of the three GTA universities, and both have experienced the strongest population growth in York Region (WhitchurchStouffville in terms of percentage; Markham in terms of numbers –see below). Both municipalities are significantly underserved by Ontario’s post-secondary sector, and would fit both key provincial funding criteria: strong growth and lack of access.


Table 10.5, “Ontario Population Projections Update, 2012 -2036,” 5 Wilfrid Laurier University, “Milton Campus Proposal: 2013 Pre-Budget Submission,” WLU has worked hard over a number of years together with the Town of Milton to pursue the possibility of a satellite campus in the town. A memorandum of understanding was signed in 2008; the Town of Milton has offered to donate 150 acres of land for this larger campus. The location (proximity to GTA; located between York U, McMaster U and Guelph U; GO-train accessible), the work with Wilfrid Laurier University over a number of years, the willingness of the Town to donate 150 acres, the pace of population growth, etc., makes the WLU Milton Proposal a particularly strong candidate for a new university campus. 6 See the following: ;; 7 E.g., see “Laurentian University’s Barrie Campus Plan Fits Perfectly,” CBC News Sudbury, January 13, 2014 (


Population Growth in Eastern York Region Communities Pop. Est. Pop. 20139 Pop. 2006 Growth Growth 8 2031 2006-13 (#) 2006-13 (%) Whitchurch60,800 43,173 24,390 18,783 77% Stouffville Markham 423,500 327,028 261,573 65,455 25% Richmond Hill 242,800 196,619 162,704 33,915 21% Aurora 70,400 56,179 47,629 8,550 18% Newmarket 97,300 86,819 74,295 12,524 17% East Gwillimbury 88,000 24,786 21,900 2,886 13% Georgina 70,700 47,361 44,500 2,861 6% The communities of Markham-Stouffville are linked prominently through cooperative involvement and investment in the Markham-Stouffville Hospital (located in Markham). The historic link between the two communities reaches back to its earliest settlers, and is reflected in the new federal riding of MarkhamStouffville. Markham is an amalgamated city and as such is much larger than the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville, with more industry, especially in the high-technology sector and is a strong choice for a university campus. A Markham campus would be difficult to access for students and staff travelling with public transportation from York Region communities to the north (e.g,. Aurora, Newmarket, East Gwillimbury, Georgina). A Markham-Stouffville campus located in the Community of Stouffville would not have this same challenge (see below).


Proposal for a Satellite University Campus for the Community of Stouffville

Despite being the second fastest growing community in Ontario, Whitchurch-Stouffville is one of the smaller York Region municipalities; it is not immediately obvious why Stouffville would be an appropriate location for a university satellite campus. A number of factors however make it a strong contender for a York Region campus of York University— most importantly, location (proximity to Markham and Richmond Hill/Aurora/Newmarket) and public transportation. Public Transportation GO-Transit: The Community of Stouffville is serviced by GO-Transit—both bus and train. The current GObus route connects with the following Markham stations: Mount Joy, Markham Town, Centennial and Unionville, as well as stops in between (including Highway 7). This same route connects further to Uxbridge in the north-east, and Toronto Union Station to the south.

York Region, “Population and Employment Forecasts 2031,” (Jan. 22, 2009), Table 1, p. 7. 9 York Region, Employment and Industry Report 2013,


Also, a 2015 completion of the GO-Richmond Hill Line extension to Gormley (a community that straddles both Richmond Hill and Stouffville, divided by Hwy 404) Station at Stouffville Road is anticipated; the station will be linked to the Community of Stouffville by the existing YRT bus #15.

Gormley GO Train Station, Stouffville Rd/ Hwy 404 to be completed 2015 (YRT #15 Stouffville Road Bus to Gormley & Yonge Corridor commenced Feb. 2014)

YRT #9 Bus to Hwy 7 Corridor

Map Source:

York Region Transit (YRT): Two YRT routes connect surrounding York Region municipalities with Whitchurch-Stouffville; the new YRT Rt. #15 Stouffville Road route is a direct east/west connection to the Yonge Street transit corridor. YRT Rt. #9 is a north/south route along 9th Line, connecting Whitchurch-Stouffville with the MarkhamStouffville Hospital, the Hwy. 7 transit corridor, and further south past Hwy. 407 to the Community of Box Grove (Markham). All three buses (GO, YRT #15 and #9) pass by Stouffville’s “Western Approach” at Hwy. 48 and Main Street--an ideal location for a satellite campus. 4

YRT Rt. 15 Stouffville Road to Yonge Street (Richmond Hill) and Gormley GO at Hwy 404

Stouffville Western Approach
YRT Rt. 9 to Hwy 7 corridor and Box Grove (Markham), south of Hwy. 407

GO Bus Stouffville Line, Hwy 48 thru Markham Map Source: Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville, Ballantrae-Musselman Lake and Environs Secondary Plan Review, November 2012.

Highway Access Stouffville has excellent automobile access to both Hwy. 404 and Hwy. 407. To the west, Stouffville is linked to Hwy. 404 by a four-lane regional road (Stouffville Road). To the north and south, Stouffville is connected by Hwy. 48 as well as by the York-Durham Line. The widening of Ninth Line will be complete this year, and it connects Stouffville with the eastern portions of Markham, as well as to Hwy. 407. Size and Location The province is no longer favouring large campus proposals (previously a key criterion); the larger property was central to East Gwillimbury’s bid.10 (Given Whitchurch-Stouffville’s location on the Oak Ridges Moraine, it could not easily offer a minimum 100-plus acres of land). However, given the change in government policy, Whitchurch-Stouffville has an opportunity to prepare a bid with a university partner.

“East Gwillimbury to Begin University Talks,” Newmarket Era, Aug. 14, 2012 (


Within the Community of Stouffville there are sufficient and appropriate employment lands for a smaller satellite campus (e.g., the size of Stratford’s new University of Waterloo Campus, two blocks from downtown; or Burlington’s MacMaster University DeGroote School of Business School in a business park along the QEW). A very strong location would be on the east side of Hwy. 48 between Hoover Park Drive and Main Street--the community’s “Western Approach”. This site would make optimal use of GO- and York Region Transit infrastructure (see above); it is a high profile location and it is in close proximity to amenities in town. Private Partnerships The Whitchurch-Stouffville Chamber of Commerce will want to be an active partner in a bid; they took the lead in 1991 in an attempt to attract a campus of Seneca College to Stouffville.11 Stouffville is home to Teva Pharmaceuticals, Strategic Information Technology (SIT), and other knowledge-based industries. Partnerships with the private sector are possible. The protected farm land immediately across the road from the town’s employment lands on Hwy. 48 is owned by Adena Springs, a company of Aurora-based Frank Stronach, who could also be asked to support a bid, e.g., favouring “entrepreneurship mentoring centres.”12


See Phil Johnson, “Whitchurch-Stouffville vies for new campus,” Toronto Star, Nov. 28, 1991 ( 2028,%201991&author=Phil%20Johnson%20Special%20to%20The%20Star&pub=Toronto%20Star&edition=&start page=Y.2&desc=Whitchurch-Stouffville%20vies%20for%20new%20campus). 12 Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, Strengthening Ontario’s Centres of Creativity and Knowledge: Discussion Paper, p. 21 (


Community of Stouffville: Land Use

Western Approach: Hwy. 48

Western Approach: Main Street (Stouffville Rd)

Employment Lands (yellow)

Map: Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville, “Functional Servincing Update,” June 2013, p. 13 (


What will/can Whitchurch-Stouffville Offer? Why?

Economic Impact: Satellite campuses have proven to be an excellent economic development lever for municipal centres in Ontario. They attract money and jobs, diversify a community’s economic base, and can be a significant factor for downtown revitalization (see the examples of Stratford, Brantford, etc. below). Cultural Impact: Post-secondary campuses can significantly enhance a community’s quality of life with respect to educational options, exposure to the arts and culture, etc. Culture creates the kind of place where people want to live. A place where people want to live also has high economic return over the long term. A successful bid will require a municipality to partner with donated land and money. Can we afford this risk? Can we afford not to take such a risk?


It will be a risk. Our tax-debt interest as a percent of our own source revenue was 4.9% in 2012—the third highest in the province (average of 1.6%; median: 1.3%).13 We need to diversify our tax-base. Yet the consequences of not offering appropriate incentives could be even more serious. In recent years we have lost many small businesses: in 2009, our town was home to 635 small businesses;14 in 2013 we were down to 565. Over the past decade, our average annual business growth was amongst the lowest in the Region: 0.7%.15 Our designated employment lands are filling very slowly. Our situation is such that 88.4% of our unweighted assessment is residential—the eighth highest municipality in Ontario.16 We need better local employment options. We have lost good paying manufacturing jobs—201 this year alone. Whitchurch-Stouffville now has 1351 manufacturing jobs—about the same as in 2001. Moreover, this year—for the first time—the lower-paying retail trade sector (i.e., selling consumer goods) has become the town’s largest employment sector.17 The strategic economic development plans for Whitchurch-Stouffville have emphasized the opportunities of the “creative class” economy. We have the location and infrastructure for a successful satellite campus bid. But it will require a calculated risk /investment. Organizing a steering committee to prepare for the bid is a critical first step. It will require politicians, the business community, local academics and other interested citizens. We will need broader discussions in the community and community buy-in. This discussion paper is designed to get that conversation going.
I would ask Council to direct staff to a) develop scenarios consistent with the criteria as best we know (anywhere from 8 to 20 acres in a high profile location in the Community of Stouffville, and $3 to 5 million towards building), b) financing options for the town; and c) a realistic assessment of the economic benefit of a satellite campus over 10 years.

To conclude this first draft, below are a few examples of what other communities have done and how they have benefited from a satellite campus “investment”. Examples Stratford (2011 pop.: 30,886)—a community smaller than Whitchurch-Stouffville—provides a recent successful model. It offered land and $10 million to attract matching provincial, federal and private sector funding, which resulted in a Stratford Campus of the University of Waterloo.18 In partnership with the private sector, Stratford invested in a city-wide wireless network and fiber optic cable to drive community and economic development. The annual direct and indirect economic benefit of the campus to the City of Stratford is over $43 million.
13 14

BMA 2013 Municipal Study, p. 99 ( York Region, Employment and Industry Report 2009, p. 45 ( 15 York Region, Employment and Industry Report 2013, p. 36; 34. 16 BMA 2013 Municipal Study, p. 51 ( 17 York Region, Employment and Industry Report 2013, p. 34f. 18 See webpage of the University of Waterloo: Stratford Campus:


Orillia (2011 pop.: 30,586) attracted a branch campus of the Lakehead Univerity in 2006.19 Brantford (2011 pop.: 93,650) partnered with Wilfrid Laurier University in the late 1990s for a satellite campus of the university, as well as a campus of Nipissing University and Mohawk College. The city approved a twenty year agreement with Nipissing University; a city-owned building, a converted house, and an adjoining parklot was given to school; as well as a $1.5 million interest-free loan; a $600,000 municipal grant, and $500,000 originally intended for another project with Laurier-Brantford and Mohawk College Brantford. Between 2006 and 2011 the annual economic benefit of the post-secondary sector to Brantford was between $43 and $58 million. 20 Cambridge partnered with the University of Waterloo to provide a home for the School of Architecture.21 $4.1 million came from province; $4.1 million from the federal government, and $19 million from private public partnership (private sector donations were driven by a corporate leader). Oshawa offered Trent University a 75-year option to lease the Civic Auditorium lands at a cost of $1 a year; the university agreed to build a new $22-million satellite campus on a portion of the former auditorium site and a former school site. Some questions for the community: What might Whitchurch-Stouffville be prepared to offer? How much debt is worth the risk? What if we do nothing? What other ideas do we have to attract business? What excites you about a university satellite campus in Whitchurch-Stouffville? What scares you about a university satellite campus in Whitchurch-Stouffville?

19 20

See webpage of Lakehead University: Orillia Campus: Adventus Research, “Economic Analysis & Impact of Laurier Brantford, Nipissing-Brantford and Mohawk College in Brantford On the City of Brantford, Brant County & Other Local Regions: Executive Summary, ” January, 2012, p. 11 ( 21 See webpage of the University of Waterloo: Cambridge Campus:


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