Orangeville campus growth very slow

(Christy Farr) (Christy Farr)
Christy Farr
Lakeshore/Orangville Reporter

Humber College Orangeville campus is growing very slowly.

The college has been planning to expand its presence since 2005 with new programs to entice students, but the growth has yet to justify the costly expansion.

Humber will present, in March, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to the Orangeville council and Humber Board of Governors for review, to propose the future of the Orangeville campus at the Alder Street Arena.

The MOU “has been worked on by both parties, the Mayor’s office and Humber College,” said Joe Andrews, director of the Orangeville Campus. “We are hoping to have this ready for town council review and Humber Board of Governors in the spring.”

The previous Veterans’ Way expansion was scrapped in 2014 when Humber officially gave back the land to the Town of Orangeville.

“It was not the route Humber wanted to go, but we are still committed to expanding at Humber in Orangeville,” said Andrews.

Expansion at the Alder Street Arena is where the future of the Humber campus is set to stay.

“The new MOU is a commitment to grow the campus to ensure we will have space available for Humber to grow,” said Andrews.

“Humber’s commitment to grow has been a slow and lengthy process,” said Orangeville Mayor Jeremy Williams.

But Williams said it feels like Orangeville is doing somersaults for Humber.

“Humber backed out of the Veterans’ Way construction and now they have plans for an expansion at Alder Arena,” he said. “Orangeville has always done everything it can to help and assist Humber, if there are any delays it is on Humber’s side.

“We try to help all businesses expand and grow in the town,” he said.

Once the MOU is presented and approved, followed by a feasibility study to provide further commitment to the building design, attention will turn to enrolment levels at the campus to justify an expansion, said Andrews.

New programs are being added each year to the campus including the General Arts and Science College and University transfer certificates to start in fall 2015.

“Adding new programs is part of Humber’s growth strategy to make sure we are providing choice and access to the greatest extent possible,” said Laurie Rancourt, Senior Vice President of Academic at Humber College.

Current enrolment is at 230 students. If the enrolment numbers reach the 450 range, Humber will need to act quickly to expand.

“We can’t handle more than 450 students in this current operation. Once we get to say 300 students there has to be a commitment for building the new campus so we don’t run out of space,” said Andrews.

Much like expanding, adding new programs is a slow process for Humber.

“The reason it is a slow process is because there are so many factors that come into play. We have a responsibility to do things that are sustainable,” said Rancourt. “Students invest a lot in their studies so its important we balance the desire to do as much as possible, as soon as possible, with the time it takes to offer the right things at the right time.”

Mayor Williams, however, believes if Humber expands now, so will enrolment.

“Build it and they will come,” he said. “I don’t know that low enrolment is a valid argument. It’s hard to drive your numbers up higher when you are using spare rooms in a recreation centre.

“Put something concrete there that students can be attracted to,” he said.