A Joint City-McMaster plan to convert vacant downtown Hamilton space into an enhanced satellite campus for McMaster is dead, at least for now. McMaster had approached the city last summer after the province issued a request for proposals to expand the reach of Ontario Colleges and Universities in areas of high student population growth through the construction of new facilities.
McMaster University submitted a letter of intent dated June 26, 2014 to the Ministry as its formal response and two months later entered into an agreement with the city whereby vacant downtown property would be used to build 150,000 square feet of new campus space and transfer a number of programs to the new facility.
But the plan came to a halt in May when the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities selected a proposal submitted by York University in its partnership with the City of Markham and Seneca College. A city staff report says the Province will issue a second call next year for proposals for capacity expansion that is limited to Peel and Halton Region. That announcement rules out the City of Hamilton-McMaster University partnership as part of this process, and no land will be transferred to McMaster University.
A review of the RFP suggests that a Hamilton-based proposal was probably not in the cards in any event. The program was aimed at communities in the GTA that are underserved with Colleges and Universities. The document states that priority would be given to a proposal that “significantly improves local student access to postsecondary education in the short term…particularly in geographic locations that may be experiencing or are expected to develop capacity gaps”. That would appear to rule out Hamilton which in addition to McMaster has Mohawk and Redeemer colleges within its boundaries. Halton and Peel have no universities other than relatively small satellite campuses. The same applies to Markham which along with Vaughan and Richmond Hill has a combined population of 800,000 and has only a satellite campus of Seneca College .