Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

June 29, 1999

Collège d'Alfred receives funding for two wastewater centres

Collège d'Alfred of the University of Guelph has received a $845,000 grant from the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade's Strategic Skills Investment Fund for a wastewater management centre for innovation, research and training.

The Ontario Rural Wastewater Centre will feature sites located in Guelph and Alfred, and outreach training services at the Baxter Conservation Area of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. They will offer extensive and varied skills training to an estimated 1,000 students per year. Students will learn how to install and maintain on-site rural wastewater treatment systems for use in subdivisions, agri-food processing plants, farms and other areas.

"Our government's number one priority is job creation," said Economic Development and Trade Minister Al Palladini. "This kind of cooperation is a perfect example of how we can plan for tomorrow's jobs today."

The centres also will focus on innovation and research, and test new technologies in collaboration with the private sector. The bilingual program involves close collaboration between industry, government and education stakeholders, and will offer seminars, courses, co-op programs, consulting and testing activities.

"This represents a bold and innovative investment in the young women and men who will be shaping Ontario's future. It is practical because it will enable students to apply the knowledge they will gain here to find new, creative solutions to old issues that have vexed rural communities for years," said University of Guelph President Mordechai Rozanski.

"This collaboration between government, private industry and education is part of our ongoing commitment to promote and provide new educational opportunities, which in turn might foster creative solutions for the 21st century."

Claude Weil, who will direct the Centre, added the goal is to facilitate rural development in Ontario. "As an example, the technologies tested and demonstrated at the centre will allow the establishment of food processing plants in the rural landscape by treating efficiently their wastewater streams and helping minimize environmental impact." Weil, head of research at Alfred, Doug Joy, U of G engineering professor, and Terry Davidson of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority co-authored the proposal.

Joy, who will direct the Guelph site, added the centres will allow Ontario to become one of Canada's leaders in environmental protection for on-site waste disposal systems. "It will open up new opportunities for people working in the field with advanced training on these systems and create new opportunities for the development of advanced technologies."

Wastewater management is a highly-skilled, high-paying and rapidly expanding sector, and there is a shortage of trained workers. In fact, one of the largest constraints on economic development in rural areas is the lack of skills in providing cost-effective, sustainable and easy- to-operate infrastructure for rural municipalities and businesses. There are 1.2 million on-site systems already in place in Ontario with more than 25,000 installations every year.

"By supporting this project, the government recognizes the ability of Collège d'Alfred to make a significant contribution to wastewater management on a province-wide scale," said Gilbert Héroux, Director of Collège d'Alfred. "We are pleased and grateful for the support of the University, the wastewater industry and our own community council in preparing and submitting our proposal."

The funding will cover startup costs and development of a training curriculum. The project is supported by industry, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the South Nations River Conservation Authority and the National Soil and Water Conservation Program.

For questions, contact Collège d'Alfred at 613-679-2218, Ext. 503, or Communications and Public Affairs at the University of Guelph, (519) 824-4120 Ext. 6982.

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