Province commits nearly 2.5M to St. Clair College

Funding announcement at St. Clair College in Chatham. November 20, 2020. (Photo by Paul Pedro)

A provincial investment of $164 million to address maintenance backlogs, upgrades and repairs at Ontario’s colleges and universities will benefit St. Clair College.

Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls was at St. Clair College’s Thames Campus in Chatham on Friday for the funding announcement.

“Investing in education only benefits everyone in the long run and with the increased number of high-school students pursuing post-secondary education, the $2.49 million will be extremely helpful towards needed maintenance and campus upgrades at St. Clair College,” said Nicholls.

Although the announcement was made at the school’s campus in Chatham, Nicholls said it will be up to college officials on how/ if the money is divided between the Chatham and Windsor campuses.

Vice President of College Communications and Community Relations John Fairly said the college was only made aware of the funding on Thursday so details as to where the money will be allocated still needs to be worked out.

“This is a college that’s in the know and on the go,” said Nicholls. “This is a tough time right now, I know. We want to be there to support our educational institutions.”

Funding through the Facilities Renewal Program (FRP) saw an increase in 2020-2021 of more than $73 million, according to a media release from the province. The provincial government said $20 million in capital funding through the Colleges Equipment and Renewal Fund (CERF) will also be used to buy and renew learning resources and equipment at Ontario colleges.

“Well-maintained facilities and the latest in learning tools and equipment are critical parts of a post-secondary education,” said Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano. “By investing in post-secondary infrastructure, we are supporting economic recovery, creating jobs and ensuring students obtain the skills they need for the in-demand jobs of today and tomorrow.”

As for why now, Nicholls said the need may not have been as predominant in previous years.

“I think that with online learning and the need for improved and higher quality — higher standards of education for students, we figured this was the time now to do it,” he said.

St. Clair College President Patti France was not on hand at the funding announcement but said in a statement, the funding will come in handy as many primary buildings are more than 50 years old.

“As anyone who has owned a half-century-old home knows, the maintenance list is a long and ongoing one,” she said. “We’re very thankful that this funding will allow us to tackle our ‘to-do list.’”

-With files from Paul Pedro