As students in Ontario gradually return to school after a year and a half of online-only learning, the University of Guelph-Humber campus has begun to show some tentative signs of life. Though it seems like things may be getting back to normal, the school might be undergoing a very significant change in the next few years – a new home altogether.

The school, which currently occupies a single building nestled toward the back of the Humber College North campus, is in the process of reintegrating in-person learning with about 50 per cent of students back on campus. While there are some exciting new projects in the current building – such as the under-construction “podcasting suites” in 312 – it’s possible that an even bigger campus update is in the works: a new spot in Brampton’s upcoming Centre for Innovation, located in their burgeoning Innovation District.

The Innovation District is a multifaceted project in Brampton’s downtown core. Described by the city as an “innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem,” the District includes a network of tech companies and start-ups as well as educational institutions. A central feature of the project is the planned Brampton Centre for Innovation, which will be “a collaborative space offering a new central library providing opportunities for digital creation and programming, performance and audio recording, assistive technologies for various abilities, and culture days.” The building itself, which is being designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, may not just incorporate Guelph-Humber: Ryerson University, Algoma University, and Sheridan College could all utilize the space.

TTC stop with overpass reading "Brampton Innovation District"The proposed move was announced in June after the Brampton City Council unanimously approved a motion for the school and the city to begin talks. Mayor Patrick Brown described it as an “exciting partnership,” saying that it will “truly help develop our city into a major education and innovation hub.”

The earliest that a move could happen is before the fall semester of 2025, meaning that most current students will have graduated and wouldn’t be affected. For applicants, however, the possibility of being a student while the school relocates to a different city may be something to consider – but even Brampton-based applicants haven’t heard about it.

Alyssa Gerardi, a 17-year-old high school student from Brampton who plans to apply to Guelph-Humber’s Justice Studies program, was surprised to learn about the possible move. While she’s excited about the prospect of going to school locally, she hopes that it wouldn’t affect some of the things that drew her to Guelph-Humber in the first place: namely, the small-school feeling and intimate class settings.

“I like how small the campus is at Guelph-Humber,” she says. “I like how it’s kind of a lot like a high school. I feel like it’s more intimate; a better environment for people like me. I enjoy being in a class with fewer students.”

With a number of post-secondary institutions looking for a spot in the upcoming Innovation District, it’s not clear how Guelph-Humber’s campus culture would change. Brampton enjoys a reputation as a hub for international students, but the community has come under fire recently for lacking the appropriate supports.

A Nov. 4 article in the Globe and Mail criticized the city’s lack of support resources for international students, pointing to an increase in suicides and mental health struggles among students from India. In particular, a lack of student housing options has led to overcrowded rooming houses, illegal secondary units, and unsafe living conditions in Brampton, said the article, pointing to both Sheridan and Centennial colleges as examples of post-secondary institutions whose attempts to support international students have been lacking. Right now, a number of student support services at Guelph-Humber, such as the Student Wellness & Accessibility Centre and a number of equity hubs, are located on the Humber North campus.

Elissa Schmidt, the school’s Manager of Communications and Public Relations, says that Guelph-Humber is committed to continuing student support services regardless of the school’s location. “As we move forward in exploring this opportunity further, there are will be a number of working groups that will explore all the details and ensure students have access to the services and supports they need to succeed,” she says, also noting that some of the more specific details about the building and its facilities would not be ironed out until the school makes the decision to move.

A digital pamphlet from the City of Brampton highlights its status as the second-fastest growing city in Canada, and part of the Toronto area which boasts the second largest tech sector in North America. Located “in the middle of Canada’s Innovation Corridor,” the city says that Brampton’s cybersecurity ecosystem sets them apart.