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New $100m facility for UOIT

Feds give UOIT $26.9 million for new facility

UOIT facility

Durham MP and Minister of Veteran Affairs Erin O’Toole made the announcement of the federal government’s $26.9-million grant to UOIT for the construction of the Centre for Advanced Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

Oshawa, meet CARIE.

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology has announced that, with proper funding, it plans on building a new facility at the north campus that will house advanced research labs and support facilities.

Tentatively called the Centre for Advanced Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CARIE) comes with a price tag of approximately $100 million.

The university got its first bit of funding from the federal government, which announced it would be contributing a little more than a quarter of that cost — $26.9 million, much to the dismay of the province, which said it felt it wasn’t properly consulted on the funding.

Erin O’Toole, MP for Durham and Minister of Veteran Affairs, announced the funding contribution for the 12,000-square-metre facility at UOIT’s north campus.

“CARIE will provide much needed academic, entrepreneurial and experimental learning to this campus with world-class teaching labs, collaboration and innovation spaces for advanced research and commercialization leading towards job creation right here in Durham,” O’Toole said to a room filled with students, teachers and politicians from throughout the region.

While a concept for the building has been released, the architectural and engineering planning has not yet gotten underway, but is expected shortly, with construction “beginning as soon as possible,” according to a news release from UOIT.

Oshawa MP Colin Carrie told The Oshawa Express that he hopes the new facility will take on a new name once it’s up and running.

“I do hope that they end up naming it after Jim Flaherty,” Carrie said, speaking to his colleague who died last year. “That would be a great tribute to Jim. He worked on the university not only as a minister in the provincial government, but it followed through with the federal government. You never know. There’s things that they have to get through, but I hope it eventually carries Jim’s name.”

Province not pleased

However, not everyone was pleased with the announcement of federal funding for the new building at the university.

In a statement released following the funding announcement, provincial infrastructure minister Brad Duguid said the new money was provided without consultation with the province, calling the announcement “completely disingenuous.”

“This type of political, unilateral action goes against the federal government’s own process within the provincial portion of the new Building Canada Fund,” Duguid says in an emailed statement. “The federal government has called on provinces to prioritize infrastructure investments under the Building Canada Fund because we are in the best position to do so, and that is exactly what provinces across Canada have been doing. Ontario has made 106 priority project submissions to the federal government for infrastructure funding from the Building Canada Plan with more on the way.

“Unilateral infrastructure announcements that reduce Ontario’s guaranteed funding allocation do not respect Ontario’s prioritization process or our efforts to build Ontario up with a clear, predictable, and long-term commitment to infrastructure.”

Carrie says that while he may not agree with Duguid’s assessment of what the July 8 announcement means, the university is still responsible for coming up with the remaining $73.1 million.

“Minister Duguid is entitled to his opinion, but I think UOIT is responsible for securing the remaining funding to make the project come forward. I’m sure they’ll be having conversations with the province and hopefully the province is on board because this is something that I believe Oshawa needs to focus on as we diversify our economy,” he said. “If he’s stating something negative towards it, I don’t understand where he’s coming from.”

Carrie adds that while the federal government often collaborates with the province on infrastructure projects through the Building Canada Fund, it isn’t out of the ordinary for Ottawa to put money into projects it deems worthwhile.

“If you look at it historically, sometime the province wants projects brought forward it likes, sometimes the federal government does projects that it likes and sometimes we work with different municipalities that lobby to get regional projects brought forward,” he says. “I think that at the end of the day, when you have worthwhile projects to bring forward, just to be able to say that yes, we’re supportive and if the province is not going to be supportive of such a worthwhile project in Durham Region, I think that says a lot.”