Brantford's Post Secondary Downtown

(This article was published in Public Sector Digest, January, 2012)

Many communities in Ontario and across Canada have started to bring post-secondary institutions into the economic mix of their downtown areas. Often, this is a single department or school, perhaps a satellite of a nearby suburban campus. However, few communities have attempted rebuilding their downtown as not just a campus, but an Integrated Academic District that supports the economy of a fully developed downtown, symbiotically woven into the traditional roles of government, commerce, and retail services, but without destroying what it came to support. That is the challenge Brantford, Ontario, embarked on a decade ago when the municipal government invited Wilfrid Laurier University (Laurier), and then Nipissing University and Mohawk College to revitalize the downtown, an area of about 30 city blocks. This article will highlight how a unique approach to downtown revitalization emerged in Brantford. If Brantford’s downtown had remained economically viable, it is unlikely this approach would have even been considered.

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