It was a celebration of growth in more ways than one at Collège Boréal on Oct. 9, as the school celebrated the official opening of its Applied Research Centre for Biodiversity.
Extensive work has been done at the school to provide facilities for training and research in plant agriculture. The $3-million project was funded in part by the federal government's strategic innovation fund to the tune of $1.5 million, along with a $1.3-million contribution from the college.
The province's share in the completion of the project was $200,000.
A number of modern installations have been built on the college's campus, including a high-tech greenhouse, a classroom, a warehouse, a drive-in freezer for research purposes, and an open-air garden.
These new facilities are in addition to pre-existing campus facilities used for research and teaching in forestry and animal studies.
Collège Boréal is home to Northern Ontario's only post-secondary agriculture program and has 58 students enrolled between its agriculture and forestry programs.
"We want to position ourselves as the leader in agriculture programs in Northern Ontario because we know there's so much potential here," said Collège Boréal president Daniel Giroux. "If you look at what makes Northern Ontario great, it's a vast territory, we have the capability to grow not only the forestry sector, but also the agriculture sector."
The modern educational complex will allow the college to offer experience-based training in a state-of-the-art education and research environment and to work with new and innovative agriculture and forestry techniques.
In addition to providing top-of-the-line training and education for students, Collège Boréal's forestry and agriculture program is a valuable cog in keeping Sudbury and Northern Ontario green.
The college has a number partnerships through its agriculture and forestry programs, distributing 350,000 trees annually, selling 40,000 of those to the city for its re-greening efforts. Eacom Timber in Copper Cliff is also a partner and benefits from the trees that are produced at the school.
"I think Collège Boréal has been playing a key role (for the city) for a number of years," said Giroux. "If you average it out at 40,000 trees for a number of years, Collège Boréal and our students and faculty have done their fair share. It's a great marketing tool for our community partners and future students too."
Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré and Sudbury MP Paul Lefebvre were both on hand for the opening of the centre, along with provincial NDP representatives Sudbury MPP Jamie West and Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas. The federal government made a $1.5-million investment from its strategic innovation fund, and Serré highlighted the importance of agriculture not only in Northern Ontario, but across the country.
"This investment here is really going to help the agriculture community. When we link this investment in innovation and agriculture and find a college like Boréal that has campuses across Northern and Southern Ontario it was just a very good fit," said Serré.
In addition to growing the agriculture and forestry fields, Serré spoke of the potential to grow the small business community by opening the doors to entrepreneurial opportunities within the two fields.
"What's not talked about a lot is the entrepreneurship. We can get students to start thinking about things like growing their own food, starting small businesses, and that's really exciting that the college has built that aspect into their programming.
"My view on this is every college or university should have entrepreneurial courses in there. You're looking at a trade or a specific area, and Boréal has done a great job of building that into their programs. You look at this program here, they're bringing in revenue, private sector partners like Eacom are involved, they're selling to the city. The students are having that incubator for entrepreneurial spirit."