It makes you want to go back to school, NDP leader and local MPP Howard Hampton mused as he wandered through the classrooms at the new Confederation College site, which celebrated its grand opening last Thursday afternoon.
That was the consensus of most people who toured the impressive facility, including the board of governors of Confederation College from Thunder Bay in town for the ribbon-cutting as part of their retreat here.
Staff, students, and supporters of the local campus had good reason to smile last week. The college has been looking for a permanent home in Fort Frances for years—and it’s no secret what rigours had to be endured out at Westfort during the construction.
But after all the delays, and all the controversy, the college portion of the project is something we can be proud of. It’s spacious, and well-equipped with state-of-the-art teaching and telecommunications tools that will be a boon to students right across the district looking for a post-secondary education or re-training opportunities close to home.
Equally important, it gives us a valuable asset in the drive to attract new residents and businesses to this area. And frankly, it leaves one champing at the bit for the high school and auditorium portions of the “multi-use” facility to be completed.
Still, Confederation College does face some challenges down the road—first and foremost a funding formula that puts it at a clear disadvantage vis-a-vis other colleges in southern Ontario because of lower enrolment numbers and the fact it isn’t recognized as a “multi-campus” college (go figure that one).
That has to change. But to do so must start with everyone rallying around our satellite campus, the importance of which simply cannot be stressed enough.
Thanks to the determination and vision of so many, the welcomed and long-overdue new facility makes that task much, much easier.