Committee urges $3.2M land parcel be given for free
The city’s open to the idea of giving an Ottawa college four acres of land worth $3.2 million for an expansion.
Algonquin College’s proposed expansion across Woodroffe Avenue cleared a hurdle yesterday when the corporate services and economic development committee recommended giving it the municipal land beside Baseline Station for free. The committee also recommended that construction of a pedestrian footbridge over Woodroffe to the Transitway stop be fast tracked.
The city’s offer of land will give the college traction in its bid for provincial and federal funding for its planned expansion, according to Algonquin president Bob Gillett, who said competition among universities and colleges for capital funds is intense.
“We needed value added to show there are more people interested in this project than just Algonquin,” said Gillett. “It would not be seen as a contribution if we just gave them the money (for the land).”
The college has proposed a $104-million expansion that will add space for 2,600 new students and include two new facilities, including a coveted skilled trades instruction centre. The other is a health sciences facility.
Bay ward councillor Alex Cullen said afterwards he supports the expansion, but balks at giving away a city-owned asset at no cost. Given Ottawa’s financial position, Cullen believes the province should pay for the land.
“This is a wonderful project, we should support it … but let’s not subsidize the provincial government to the tune of $3.2 million to make this, in quotes, competitive.”
But Coun. Rick Chiarelli (College ward) defended the proposal, saying benefits to the city far outweigh the cost.
In return for the land, he said, Ottawa would benefit through revenue from the new facilities, and in the long-term from local graduates who are specialized in high-demand construction and health services trades.