Downtown campuses popular among Canadian universities

February 6, 2012

Across Canada, universities are starting new city centre campuses or, in the case of the University of Winnipeg, expanding their urban footprint. The University of Windsor's downtown plans include relocating its school of social work to the Windsor Star building, moving its music and visual arts departments to the Armouries building, and eyeing a former bus depot for film production. Brock University will begin construction of an academic and cultural arts centre in downtown St. Catharines this year; the University of the Fraser Valley plans to open a campus in downtown Abbotsford; and Grant MacEwan University aims to become "Edmonton's downtown university." Many see these campuses as solutions to the problem of decaying downtowns in smaller cities. In turn, universities are reaping community goodwill, as well as badly needed expansion space. Some observers and educators caution that despite all their successes, universities should not be viewed solely as saviours of dying downtowns. "The university is not the department of public planning," says a researcher with the Université du Québec's Institut national de la recherche scientifique. "Their responsibility is to give the best education possible." University Affairs