Opinion: Don’t Let Laurentian University Fall Into Darkness, Says Chamber Speaker

‘Tough pill to swallow’, but opportunity arises as restructured university prepares to emerge from insolvency process

As the September 14 voting deadline approaches for Laurentian University to exit the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce and its board hope that a new, reimagined post-secondary institution will be the end result.

Significant impacts have been felt throughout the community since Laurentian University’s ACCA process began in early 2021, as the university moved to cut costs and restructure. During this process, hundreds of professors and other professionals at Laurentian – as well as its three former federated universities – lost their jobs.

Many of these people have left the region with their families. The result was a major economic, social, intellectual and cultural withdrawal from the city. Local businesses have lost customers and future employees. Companies and industries have lost research opportunities and talented researchers. Health centers have lost practitioners. Arts organizations have lost patrons and volunteers. Primary and secondary schools lost students. The list continues.

Far fewer post-secondary students are choosing to come to Sudbury because of the situation. It goes without saying that the insolvency of Laurentian University and its restructuring actions have tarnished its reputation. As a result, Greater Sudbury has been deprived of intellectual and social capital essential to the city’s image and its economy.

The impact of this university, however, cannot be underestimated. Laurentian University is the largest bilingual distance education provider in the country and a leader in technology and innovation. The university is home to the recently established McEwen School of Architecture and NOSM University, both of which are important regional economic engines.

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Sudbury wouldn’t be the city it is today without Laurentian University. The university and its students have contributed to re-greening efforts to repair the damage caused by decades of mining activity, and these efforts have earned this city worldwide accolades. Laurentian students and staff have been instrumental in dark matter research at SNOLAB, research that has been crowned with a Nobel Prize in Physics.

The loss of the university would end decades of successful land, soil and water research.

As Laurentian is located within one of the largest mining complexes on the planet, its research has cemented its reputation in the study of environmental stewardship. The post-secondary institution has made a name for itself for its research in wetland ecology, restoration ecology applied to heavily disturbed lands, and aquatic invasive species.

From crisis comes opportunity, the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce believes this is an opportunity to develop a renewed and sustainable university that capitalizes on its strengths.

But to do so depends on a successful exit from the CCAA process. This will be a tough pill to swallow for many in this community, albeit for the most part a community that is justifiably proud of Laurentian University’s accomplishments. Graduates find sustainable and well-paid jobs here. They work and live in Greater Sudbury, supporting the economy and contributing to the way of life we ​​all enjoy.

Laurentian’s role in the history of this city is important, and that is why the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce does not want this institution to sink into oblivion. This is too important for Sudbury, the North and all of Ontario – and for the Francophone and Aboriginal communities that rely on Laurentian to provide educational opportunities close to home. The time has come to rebuild a stronger Laurentian.

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