August 15, 2014
Over 200 people were in attendance at the Kemptville College Renewal Task Force town hall meeting on July 16.

Along with offering an opportunity of speaking to the issue of the college’s survival, attendees welcomed facilitator Lyle Vanclief, who was appointed to the task force by Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Jeff Leal.

Many representatives of local municipalities attended, including mayors, MPs and MPPs. Also on hand were members of the Task Force, with representation of Landscape Ontario through LO’s Manager of Education and Labour Development, Sally Harvey CLT, CLP.

The University of Guelph, which operates Kemptville, had earlier announced the decision to close the college at the end of 2015 to save $7-million in annual costs, as enrolments have sagged.

Marty Derks, vice chair of the Kemptville College Renewal Task Force, said, “Over the past 15 weeks, we have met with several groups that have an interest in developing future plans for the local agricultural institution.”

Vanclief, who once served as the Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, stated that he was attending the town hall meeting to listen to what the task force and concerned residents had to say, but would not be answering questions.

The issue raised by a number of people at the town hall meeting was about rumours of expressed interest in taking over the campus. Apparently showing interest are St. Lawrence College and Algonquin College, as well as private groups. The task force would not confirm specific information on that question.

Bill Smirle, acting as chairperson of the meeting, read out the three recommendations from the town hall meeting: Forming a stakeholder advisory panel of leading business and community members on a transformative model for Kemptville College to deliver research and education programs that are focused on high growth and high demand segments in agriculture, agri-food, equine, horticulture and associated trades; that the renewed Kemptville College is founded on strategic partnerships that will leverage the strengths and capabilities of each organization; and that the Province of Ontario support the request of the Municipality of North Grenville to administer Kemptville College on an interim basis during the period of transformative change.