By: Joseph Cacciotti
Algonquin’s Pembroke Campus has ignited the growth and development of the city since it first opened on Oct. 4, 2012.
The effect was immediate, as many students visited local businesses, which in turn, began adapting to their new clientele. The new campus is located on 1 College Way, a continuation of Frank Nighbor Road off of Pembroke Street West.
“Parts of Pembroke Main Street are being revitalized, especially in the west end”, said Dan Cornell, manager of Fraser’s clothes, “This is where most of the businesses have flourished over the past year. There has been a definite increase in business and economic development.”
Fraser’s clothes is one of the longest standing businesses on the main street”, said Cornell. “We were one of the first members of Upper Ottawa Valley Chamber of Commerce. The site of the Chamber of Commerce was moved within the past month to 224 Pembroke St. West, a short distance from Algonquin’s campus, and represents of many wealthy and reputable businesses across the city.”
“Mayor (Ed) Jacyno has been speaking very highly of the construction of the college, particularly the importance of its placement on the waterfront.” said Cornell. “It will definitely be a big improvement to the downtown core.”
Fraser’s is not the only business to welcome Algonquin College. Among the businesses thriving from student activity are; Madameek Lebanese Restaurant, Giant Tiger, Joey’s Only, and East Side Mario’s.
Many of these businesses offer discounts to students. “Joey’s Only gives 10% discounts for students on Wednesdays”, said student Kevin Staye, “The Kiwanis Club is in every Wednesday as well. It’s nice to eat cheap fish and chips and listen to piano music.”
Jamie Bramburger, manager of community and student affairs for Algonquin college in the Ottawa Valley said, “It(the new campus) improves access to a college education for residents by facilitating more programs through an exceptional learning space. The waterfront placement because of its beauty allows us to attract more students.”
Many students are very happy with the campus’ new location. A Pembroke student named Marley Avis said, “I like the layout; how everything is set up, it is in a good location, with a good view, and it is closer to the centre of town.”
The campus hosts over 900 full time students, as well as a healthy share of international students. This is beneficial to both students and local businesses as these students form an important part of the Pembroke community. While the majority of students the Times interviewed love the campus, there are a few minor complaints. Scheduling for college sports sometimes conflicts with classes and garbage cans are situated in hallways, not classrooms.
The lack of an official College Residence is a concern for students. Melanie Pratt, a second year Algonquin student said, “If there was a residence students would be brought together and have a better college experience, as a residence would cause students to branch out from their own programs and friends, allowing them to meet people from other programs and out of town.”
Bramburger has indicated that there are plans prepared for the construction of a residence.
“We certainly would like to see there be a residence; it was built into the site plan for this building should that opportunity come about.”
The Pembroke campus consists of one large, spacious, modern and well lit four-floor building. Within this structure one can classrooms for every program, all available Student services, public library, a gym, fitness zone, cafeteria, campus bookstore, security office, and some of the most sophisticated classroom learning environments available to date.
The college is home to a sealed science lab, the best quality and most expensive nursing tools, as well as campus-wide internet connectivity.
The city and the college have high hopes for the future of the campus, Jamie Bramburger said, “The college is new here, we need some time to get established.”
Algonquin is not alone in its eagerness to expand its facilities and provide more services to their students. Private developers have already taken an interest in the college, and there are plans for a new housing development beside the college on land which would never have been developed without the existence of the Pembroke campus.
The Ontario Provincial Police will also be establishing a headquarters beside the college by June 24, which Bramburger said, “can only be a good thing.”
Though the Campus has only been open for less than a year, it has made its mark and changed Pembroke as a positive learning environment, and an asset to businesses.