The governments of Canada and Quebec confirm their support for construction of UdeM’s new campus.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard braved bitter cold on December 15 to visit the Complexe des Sciences construction site on the future Campus MIL, along with Université de Montréal Rector Guy Breton, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, and the federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains.
In -20°C temperatures and under a clear blue sky, the politicians met with several workers and students before moving nearby to a warmer spot indoors to sign the Strategic Investment Fund agreement for postsecondary institutions, under which Ottawa will invest $84 million and Quebec $145 million in the UdeM project.
Slated to open in the fall of 2019, the Complexe des Sciences will house the research and teaching facilities of the university's chemistry, physics, geography and biological sciences departments.
Major innovation centre for Canada
“It will be one of the largest innovation centres in Canada,” Trudeau said. “Researchers will work together in world-class facilities to find solutions to the problems facing our country and our world.”
He added: “We want to make Canada a global leader in transforming ideas into solutions, science into technology, skills into jobs, and emerging businesses into well-established companies in the global marketplace."
Couillard had a similar message. “Our institutions must be avant-garde, modern and globally competitive in order to innovate and keep our best talents here at home," the premier said. The project has particular resonance for him: his father, he recalled, was a biology teacher, and biology is one of the subjects that will be taught at the new campus. Addressing students at the announcement, Couillard said: “I think you are lucky. The Complexe des Sciences will live up to the reputation that Montreal and Quebec have as internationally recognized places of learning.”
Reinventing the university – and the city
For his part, Breton pointed out that construction on the MIL campus — located on a former railyard straddling Outremont and the Park Extension and Mile End districts — signals the creation of a mixed and diversified neighbourhood of 2,000 students and 200 faculty and staff, along with thousands of workers, residents, business owners and visitors.
In addition to the Complexe des Sciences, the campus will include a digital innovation centre, a science-based primary school and several other institutions. “By building a new campus and a new neighbourhood on a vacant lot, we have an opportunity to reinvent not only the university, but also the city," said Breton. The Complexe, he added, "will be part of a campus that will reshape Montreal's urban fabric and become a driving force of innovation for the city, Quebec and Canada. It will truly be a thriving hub."
The Complexe has been designed to allow researchers and students from a variety of disciplines to share the same laboratories and the same study spaces, Breton said. “The word ‘share’ is important because it's in shared spaces like these that science is progressing today," he noted.
Canada's sciences minister also lauded the project. “It’s a historic day,” said Bains. "We are moving forward in realizing our vision for Canada as a global innovation centre.”
Special to UdeMNouvelles