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Turning Oshawa into a “college and university town”

A visualization of Trent Durham’s future expansion plans at its Thornton Road campus. (Graphic courtesy of Trent Durham).

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The future expansion of Trent Durham’s campus just got a little easier after the City of Oshawa donated a 1.8-acre parcel of land worth $1.4 million to the university.

Located at the north end of 99 Thornton Road South, adjacent to the existing Trent campus, the land will officially be transferred when Trent is ready to take its expansion plans to the next stage.

“The city has contributed money to UOIT and to Durham College, we want Trent Durham as part of the intellectual economy to flourish with them,” says Councillor John Aker, chair of the development services committee.

And flourishing is exactly what the school plans to do with projections showing that the university hopes to bring its student population, currently just under 1,000, to more than 2,500 by 2019.

According to a release from the city, Trent generates approximately $47 million in annual economic activity for Oshawa and Durham Region.

The current Trent building, the former location of St. Michael’s Catholic Elementary School, was purchased by the university in 2009 and following a $12 million renovation, the campus opened its door in the fall of 2010.

The expansion plans, previously shared with council, envision a $38-million academics building and an $18-million student residence, which Trent hopes to construct using a private-public partnership.

“With first-year student increases averaging 25 percent annually, the current facility will soon be at capacity,” states Leo Groarke, the president and vice-chancellor of Trent University in a news release. “We are excited to plan for new academic and residential space to accommodate student demand in the Eastern GTA.”

For Aker, the land transfer will give the university not only the much-needed space to grow, but also the visibility required to put a university on the map for local students.

“Young people that live in this area, if their parents drive them by a college or university, they know where it is, they see it in the community and they will have lots of choice and opportunity in this area,” he says. “Oshawa is becoming a college and university town.”

According to Aker, the land transfer will officially take place once the expansion receives site plan approval and the city issues a building permit for the first building of the proposed development.