Burlington city staff recommend against funding Mac MBA campus

City of Burlington staff are recommending their city council against giving McMaster University $10-million towards the construction of a campus for Mac’s MBA programs.

Originally, the city of Burlington and McMaster reached a MOU to build a campus in downtown Burlington.

The city of Burlington is looking to take the first step towards having a full-fledged post-secondary campus within its city limits and to have it located in it’s urban centre for revitalization purposes.

McMaster University is looking to be a bigger player in the lucrative GTA MBA market.

The two goals are not compatible.

When McMaster first announced it’s plans for a downtown Burlington campus, I was not convinced. I figured McMaster would eventually decide to locate their campus near the major Hwy. 407/403/QEW interchange. They have to, they are looking to draw students from the towers of Bay Street. The only way to draw them is to be near the highway.

The city of Burlington should offer whatever non-monetary support they can to McMaster’s plans. They should not give McMaster the $10-million they committed to the downtown campus idea. The $10-million is designed to further a public policy goal of the city to get a post-secondary institution located in their downtown.

Burlington is well positioned to attract a liberal arts university campus. It is on the edge of the Greater Toronto Area. It’s downtown core is close enough to Lakeshore GO Transit line that bus-rapid transit can connect the campus to commuter students. If I were the Mayor of Burlington, I’d be calling up Brock and UWaterloo to discuss the possibility of either university opening up shop in downtown Burlington. A University of Waterloo campus focused on the sciences and engineering would definitely attract provincial funding. Being an area that the federal Conservatives can potentially pick up seats, I could see some federal money being invested into a new campus.