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"It's a shame we're losing it"

City councillors support Laurentian University students with a letter but no municipal cash
James Westman and Chris Read are vice presidents with the Laurentian University student union in Barrie. Robin MacLennan/BarrieToday

There won't be any money attached to City Council's letter of support for Laurentian University students faced with the closing of their school.

"This is definitely a provincial and university issue," said Counc. Andrew Prince. “Although I am highly support of the students, I just can’t in good faith suggest giving municipal tax dollars to a provincial issue."

Councillors voted unanimously to send a letter to the Laurentian University president,  requesting arrangements be made for students to complete their degrees in Barrie or provide financial compensation be provided.

"Do not take this letter so much as a defeat, but the city’s further commitment to the students," Councillor Sergio Morales
said. "It's definitely a provincial issue which they have dropped the ball on. We will continue to have your backs."

The support was welcomed by members of the university student union who were at the committee of the whole meeting Monday.

"We are happy with the letter," said student union vice president James Westman.

"Honestly, we weren't expecting money from the city."

Members of the student union are meeting on Thursday to plan their next steps.

Westman says he believes the University should use the profit from several "good years" operating in Barrie to keep the doors open for all students until 2019.

Currently, Laurentian will shut its doors to arts and management students at the end of this year and allow social work students to complete degrees in Barrie.

Over 35 Barrie students are signed up to travel to Sudbury on April 15 to attend a Board of Governors meeting "and be heard".

"We will be presenting our demand that the university stay open until 2019 in Barrie and we will be demonstrating," Westman said.

He encouraged members of the public to attend the protest and support students.

Councillors unanimously supported sending the support letter.

"I think it's a shame what has happened here," said Counc. Doug Shipley. "It’s a shame that we are losing it."

Robin MacLennan

About the Author: Robin MacLennan

Robin MacLennan has been a reporter, photographer and editor for the daily media in Barrie, across Simcoe County and Toronto for many years. She is a proud member of the Barrie community.
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