By Patrick Meagher
KEMPTVILLE — Mothballed two years ago with most buildings sitting empty, Kemptville College is about to be sold to its local township.
North Grenville Township announced that it will buy from the province a large portion of the main campus and surrounding property at the south end of the town of Kemptville. In an odd twist, the township has not told its ratepayers how much it will cost them until after the deal is signed, said township negotiator and chief administrative officer Brian Carré, who said a deal should be inked by Christmas.
The agricultural college opened for students in 1921 and was the go-to college for years for local dairy farmers. The University of Guelph took over the campus in 1997 and announced in 2014 that the school would close, causing rural outrage. The college graduated its last two-year agricultural diploma students in 2015. There were 36 graduates. The same year the college graduated students in equine, heavy equipment tech, industrial welding, horticulture and food science.
The province and the municipality released a joint statement about the deal on Nov. 8. There are at least two schools and one daycare centre now operating on campus. While most of the campus was empty, the Hollywood horror flick, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, was filmed there.
The township is expected to buy about 633 acres of the 847-acre campus that includes 52 buildings and crop land. The deal would see the municipality buy most of the buildings, including residences, sports facility with gymnasium, greenhouses, storage buildings, main cafeteria, forest and cropland, trail system and agroforestry centre.
Not included in the deal is the farm, on the east side of County Road 44, that includes the Barr Arena, a large show barn, and a barn that is currently rented out. Carré told North Grenville Times that the farm was too expensive and did not fit in with the township’s vision of the college campus as an education and community hub.
Annoyed by lack of transparency, North Grenville Times Deron Johnston wrote: “What was the price that North Grenville paid? How will it be paid? Where will the money come from? Will it be taking on debt or be somehow financing the deal? What’s included in the purchase? Why does nothing about Kemptville Campus appear in the municipal budget? Who’s responsible for fixing/replacing the underground infrastructure? Do the schools that are there have a stake in the deal?”