Growing A Brand in Brampton

a sign that reads "Brampton Innovation Center"

Spring has sprung! With a 20 per cent growth rate projected for the next decade, the Flower City, Brampton Ont., has some ambitious new blooms taking root in the downtown core – and it looks like a transplant is in the works.

Twenty years ago, a young, ambitious institution opened its single set of doors in a cozy corner of the Humber North campus. Enrollment has doubled since then, so an expansion of the campus is in order for the University of Guelph-Humber – and the school has its eye on the Innovation Corridor.

GH is looking to become the anchor tenant for the Centre for Innovation, with a tentative move date set for September, 2026. The school has a vision of “Ontario’s first post-COVID campus” –  and with most of its students hailing from the Brampton and Peel regions, the CFI might be the perfect choice.

“The University of Guelph-Humber has been interested in Brampton for quite some time,” said project lead Rani Dhaliwal in a February relocation update session. It has a vision for innovation. And that aligns very well with the vision that we have for the University of Guelph-Humber.”

How GH will accommodate student needs without the many comforts of the Humber North campus is still a work in progress. According to Dhaliwal, community partnerships will help to provide some of the student services that are currently available to students – for example, the YMCA could possibly provide fitness facilities, and a public-private partnership can help with potential student accommodations.

Brampton has a number of academic institutions that really are focused on supporting tech and supporting innovation.

Pam Banks: executive director of Altitude Accelerator

The issue of how to support international students – given Brampton’s high population and low resources for them – is also being looked at, but with only 70 of GH’s students coming from overseas, it shouldn’t be too big of a concern. Addressing the needs of current students remains a priority, but the school is open to growing its international community.

Image Credit: Bobbe Hayes

“By building a brand in Brampton we’ll be able to be more of a destination. We’ll be able to be that combination of an institution that’s really sought after by not just local students but also by students from around the world, and from around Canada as well,” said Guelph vice-president Daniel Atlin in the February update.

For the Media and Communications Studies program, changing the school’s physical location may require some adjustments – but for a stream heavily focused on new media and digital communication, the core principles of the program will remain the same.

The Centre for Innovation, co-located with the library, would be an excellent opportunity to create a model for the future of education in Ontario.

Daniel Atlin: Guelph vice-president

“Whether the school’s mailing address is in Brampton or Toronto, our program will always aim to prepare students for a career anywhere within the Canadian media landscape,” said program head Kathy Ullyott. “The tools that we want to give students are ones that will work anywhere, in any format.”

The Centre for Innovation is a headlining feature of the Innovation District, and is being designed by Toronto-based firm Diamond Schmitt Architects. The company has an impressive cross-country portfolio, having worked on design projects for everything from the storied Senate of Canada building in Ottawa to the contemporary and stylish Drake Hotel in downtown Toronto.

Right now, the building is being designed to host multiple tenants including the Brampton Central Library. They are planning to occupy about half of the total square footage. The city describes the building as “a collaborative space offering a new central library providing opportunities for digital creation and programming, performance and audio recording, assistive technologies for various abilities, and culture days.”

Image Credit: Bobbe Hayes

When I think about the Innovation district I think about potential…When I think about the Innovation District I think about the future.

Patrick Brown: Brampton Mayor

One of the Centre For Innovations’s most attractive features is its proximity to transit networks. The current campus, while technically located in Toronto, is a bit out-of-the-way for students commuting on public transit. The new campus would be adjacent to its own transit terminal, with all-day two-way GO lines and access to the province’s main public transportation lines.

Construction is underway at the corner of George and Nelson in downtown Brampton. If GH does move there, the location offers more resources for media students and opportunities to grow alongside the new downtown core.

Featured Image Credit: Bobbe Hayes

Bobbe Hayes

Bobbe is a fourth-year student at the University of Guelph-Humber. A Toronto native, Bobbe now lives in Hamilton with her faithful corgi sidekick.