Brampton’s STEAM is rooted in STEM

Teams from Brampton are competing at the 2018 VEX Robotics World Championship

By Victoria Kaye

As Brampton begins to realize the dream of a STEAM-powered university to drive the future, today our city is standing tall on the STEM world stage.

A number of student teams from Brampton are set to take the world stage at this year’s VEX World Robotics Competition held in Louisville, Kentucky. 400 teams will be competing, with fifteen teams hailing from Brampton.

VEX Robotics Design Systems, in association with the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation, has been hosting regional, national and global tournaments for 11 years in their effort to encourage youth around the world to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) studies. Over 20,000 teams from 40 nations have competed.

Castlebrook Secondary School is sending three teams. North Park Secondary School’s Viking Robotics is sending four teams. A team originally from Chinguacousy Secondary School who, since its 2014 championship, has continued as the not-for-profit organization called Brampton Robotics is sending six teams. Known as Discobots, they were also the 2016 VEX World champions in both the High School and Elementary categories.

Returning to this year’s competition as 2017’s VEX IQ Challenge Middle School World Champion, winner of the VEX IQ Challenge Robot Skills and two other awards, are the KraftWerx Gladiators, a team of Grade 9 friends from various Brampton area high schools. This year, they move up a class to the High School categories and a new foursome of Grade 7 & 8 students assume their winning team number, 555A.

Typically, cities only see one or two teams making it this far. The fact that Brampton is sending fifteen of the top 400 teams to the VEX World Championships is outstanding. We are actually sending more teams than most provinces and, according to VEX World’s PR firm, Brampton consistently does well on the national and global stages of these competitions.

Each year, VEX Robotics challenges the student teams with an exciting engineering problem in the form of a game. This helps the learning process by giving both beginner and advanced students an achievable goal to work towards in an extremely supportive environment, with mentoring by teachers, coaches and peers.

KraftWerx is not a school team; it is a home-based robotics group with a mechanical engineer and father as their coach. “It started with my son,” explains coach Saranjit Wilkoo. “He saw all my tools while growing up and I would find him playing with them. A few years ago, these guys were all on their laptops, playing games. I said, Let’s use the laptops for something more results-oriented.” That’s how Saranjit got the kids involved in these ongoing STEM-based games that lasts 8-9 months. He couldn’t do it alone, so he called up friends and work colleagues from the Brampton area and found more kids that were like-minded and wanting to get into robotics.

“Our robot is a lot more complex than the one we built last year,” begins Saranjit’s son Tejas Wilkoo. “We always build our robot around a specific game. This year, VEX designed it so we must stack cones.” With great detail and easy wording by Tejas and the team, it was easy to understand the mechanics of their sport.

“The way to make points is determined by how we play with an allied team against two opposing teams,” Aryan Shah explains. At the beginning of a game, they meet their allies for the first time and only have a set time to collaborate and strategize with them.

“The brain of the robot is here,” points Sahaej Arora, as their robot works from their ability to manipulate its behaviour through the technology provided. Though there is no combat, it is very competitive – a battle of wits using joysticks and computer programming.

“The technology processing is everything,” states Krish Panzade, explaining the main game-changer is the way they apply the technology. “Though the structural frame of all the competing robots may be the same, additional alter-sonic sensors give the robot human-like abilities. Technology, hardware and software are all combined, making a really good application of the robot.”

Working as a team is one of the life skills achieved, as demonstrated by how smoothly explaining the mechanics of their operation passes from one to another, like a baton in a relay team. The new junior team, including middle school students Darsh Panzade, Aryan Shah, Shaan Mehta and Hrishi Taylor, is in its first VEX World Competition. This team currently ranks first in Canada, and fifth in the world. Similar to the KraftWerx senior team, their task is based on how their robot works and performs on the field.

In a match, there will be two robots, each from a different team, attempting to achieve the same goal. In addition to game-play, Aryan explains, “VEX Robotics mainly promotes STEM. In our division, we also have to do a STEM project where we research products that aren’t related to robotics, find a problem and, using robotics, determine how we can fix the problem.” Just like the senior team, they explain their task and the mechanics of competition in perfect four-part harmony.

Here is where the future looks bright…

Most competition is based on combat. A winner is determined by beating the opponent. In the world of robotics and STEM ideology, the winner reigns supreme by how well they all get along. In most cases, teams are paired with and against other teams who do not necessarily speak the same language. It’s all about their ability to collaborate, manage the project, and accomplish the task while troubleshooting along the way.

“It’s not easy to qualify for the Worlds,” Saranjit states. “With each passing year, it becomes more and more difficult.”

Interestingly, these experiences are opening up new conversations and career paths in the young participants. That is what STEM is all about, and probably why Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey has been championing towards bringing a STEM-based University which also includes the Arts to spell STEAM to Brampton. Ryerson is leading the charge as they have teamed up with Sheridan College with plans to break ground in Brampton soon. It’s obvious —whatever is in the water we drink, our well runs deep with potential.

It’s encouraging to know that so many kids are wanting to pursue STEM and STEAM-oriented education and careers. They could all be the first to enroll in Brampton’s University.

“Basically, whatever we are learning, we can easily apply to our future,” shares Krish. “Suppose I want to go into mechanical or hardware engineering. Macro engineering is programming and building at the same time. Giant space stations and companies like NASA are using technology like this, but on a larger and wider scale. I’m now interested in either or both —it’s intriguing.”

“I’ve noticed I am more open to enlightening experiences,” Tejas confesses. “I now realize I will definitely be pursuing engineering or robotics as a career.”

As robotics can lend themselves to many fields, Aamodot Acharya of the KraftWerx Senior team has discovered a potential career path for himself which is slightly different. “I wanted to pursue biology, but then I got into this, and now have two passions. I recently found out there are biomedical engineering jobs where my experience from robots can be applied to my passion for biology.”

During Stand Up 4 Brampton’s recent interview with Ryerson’s President Dr. Mohamed Lachemi, he explained that Ryerson offers these programs, including work experience through their collaboration with St. Michael’s Hospital where biomedical engineering and science students work alongside clinicians.

Now, combine this with Seneca’s World renowned robotics programs… Aamodot has a lot of educational options opening up to him.

Similar career choices are being considered by the younger KraftWerx members. Shaan wants to be a zoologist and apply what he is learning in robotics to saving animals from extinction — creative. It’s exciting to see how little effort is needed to change career paths.

The only flood we should worry about coming into downtown Brampton is the tsunami wave of talent that is heading this way in the very near future. Brampton’s new university is slated to begin classes September 2022. It will be just in time for these kids to be Brampton’s first STEAM students.

VEX Robotics World Competitions start April 25th and conclude May 1.

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Ryerson University to be located at Brampton GO Station

Ryerson will build its new campus on the GO Station parking lot, centre of photo. Source: Google

In what is certain to be a historic day for Brampton, the Province has made its official announcement for funding of a new university campus in downtown Brampton.

After more than a year of speculation, the location of the Ryerson University expansion was revealed at an event hosted by the Brampton Board of Trade this morning.

The new university is set to be located at the corner of Church Street West and Mill Street North in Brampton, presently the parking lot that forms part of the Metrolinx GO Train Station.

You can see our full broadcast, via Stand UP for Brampton, of this morning’s historic announcement by clicking the link at the bottom of this story.

Stand UP for Brampton’s Paul Vicente and Rowena Santos met last month with Mohamed Lachemi, the President of Ryerson University, where he discussed the importance of locating the new university close to transit, particularly, along the Kitchener Rail line, dubbed the “innovation super corridor” that connects Toronto and Waterloo, with Brampton positioned at the strategic center of the two major tech hubs.

Paul Vicente, Dr. Mohamed Lachemi, and Rowena Santos, March 2018.

“If you take the train from Toronto, going to Waterloo, Brampton is the mid-point. So I need to think about a way for us to capture this, and Metrolinx can be a strategic partner in that aspect, for sure,” explained Lachemi. “The location is extremely important, and the linkage to both cities, to Waterloo and Toronto, is extremely powerful.”

You can read the full interview series with President Mohamed Lachemi by clicking the links below:

  • Part I: Community collaboration to build a city – Click here.
  • Part II: Economic Benefits and the Innovation Hub – Click here.
  • Part III: Brampton as a world leader with specialized programming – Click here.

Focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM), programming will be delivered in partnership by Ryerson University and Sheridan College. The new site will provide up to 2,000 new undergraduate spaces within five to 10 years.

The new campus will offer specialized programs on “cyber security“, a new and burgeoning field that is a primary concern for corporations around the world. Financial institutions, banks, police services, governments, and utilities are looking at their operations and the new risks presented by global hackers looking to steal information or potentially cause disruption. The area of cyber security has become a top priority with demand for skilled people on the rise.

Dr. Lachemi believes that the new university in our city is poised to become a world-class source for talent. “Brampton can be that hub; it can become a global center for cyber security. It will differentiate Brampton from anything else in the country, I tell you.”

Ontario will invest $90 million for the construction of the new postsecondary school and will also support the land purchase. The City of Brampton has pledged $50 million over ten years towards the new university campus, and an additional $100 million toward a “joint-use centre for education, innovation and collaboration” to be also located in the downtown.

At the announcement, Brampton’s Mayor Linda Jeffrey could hardly contain her excitement, saying that this is a once in a generation opportunity for Brampton. “This will transform Brampton forever,” a smiling Jeffrey said to the attendees in the packed hall.

“Today’s exciting announcement marks the start of transformation for Brampton, and new opportunities for our residents. We are looking forward to continuing our excellent partnership with Ryerson and Sheridan to make Brampton a destination for learning and innovation.”

The scene of today’s announcement, hosted by the Brampton Board of Trade.

Some attendees at the event, remarked that had the City of Brampton approved the proposed plan by Metrolinx to build an LRT line along Main Street, the construction of that project would have provided an essential link to the university, and that construction for both projects would have concluded around the same time.

In 2015, six Councillors voted against the HMLRT plan, and instead chose to stop the line at Shoppers World. The project was set to cost $1.6 billion, with the Province of Ontario  committed to paying the full amount.

New economic activity is expected in Brampton as a result of today’s announcement, and the benefits to the community will include the fact that residents will have the option of attending a world-class learning institution in the heart of the city.

Impacts include the creation of 3000 new construction jobs and $650 million of economic activity, and once the facility opens, 1900 permanent jobs will be supported, and $300 million of economic impact is expected every year.

Planning and design on the new campus is expected to begin immediately, with construction to follow and its completion scheduled for the Fall of 2022.

Watch today’s university announcement here:


An artist’s conceptual rendering of the proposed university location. Source: COB


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Brampton MP writes in support of the Sikh-Canadian community

Kamal Khera, Member of Parliament for Brampton West.

Stand UP for Brampton is re-publishing this article as it is of interest to many residents in Brampton and across Canada.


Sikh-Canadians Deserve Better Treatment

By Kamal Khera

Coretta Scott King, a great civil rights leader and the wife of Martin Luther King Junior, once said, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” The Sikh-Canadian community epitomizes this value; we embrace the communities that we live and work in, through selfless acts of service and compassion.

As a result of the uniqueness of our religion and our appearance, our brave community has been bearing the brunt of racism from the Komagata Maru incident, over one hundred years ago, to present day.

The negative narrative associated with the Sikh-Canadian community recently in the media is an example of this prejudice. Sikh-Canadians have faced these acts with significant courage and continue to emerge as shining examples of resilience and humility. Through numerous free community kitchens (langars), food drives, equality initiatives, youth outreach programs, and blood donations clinics, Sikh-Canadians bespeak the Sikh character of helping and supporting fellow human beings through selfless service. Sikh-Canadians believe that service to humanity is in fact service to God.

The attributes of Sikh-Canadians that I have mentioned are already very well known throughout Canada. I write to express the sense of pain I share with my fellow members of the Sikh-Canadian community which has resulted from the baseless criticism of the Sikh-Canadian community over the course of the last month.

I have no intention of providing an opinion on the presence of Jaspal Atwal at the Canadian High Commissioner’s reception during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s state visit to India, the presence of Talwinder Singh Parmar’s pictures at events, the individual which orchestrated the Air India attack, or the politics behind these discussions. I feel pain on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of peaceful, honest and hardworking Sikh-Canadians that have become unintentional subjects of these controversies, by no fault of their own.

I feel pain on behalf of the children that are bullied and criticized because the Sikh-Canadian community has been unfairly painted as a community of terrorists.

I feel pain for the Sikh-Canadians that volunteer to help the less fortunate by distributing free food to the homeless in downtown Toronto, that somehow are considered members of a terrorist entity, without basis. I know that countless Sikh-Canadians working in factories, offices and businesses are enduring the same emotions. This is extremely unfair to Sikh-Canadians, and counter to the values of diversity and inclusion we celebrate as Canadians.

I have no sympathy for individuals guilty of perpetrating violence against humanity; I categorically condemn all acts of violence. As a Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue, I have the privilege of interacting with people from all walks of life. Each community in Canada embodies unique and distinguished characteristics that help define them as Canadians; diversity is our strength. This applies to the Sikh-Canadian community in the same way it applies to other communities of Canadians. As a Sikh-Canadian, I am particularly proud of the Sikh spiritual concept of selfless service to humanity.

We cannot deny that a deep sense of pain still exists within the Sikh community as a result of the deaths of innocent Sikhs in 1984. However, this pain is equally and genuinely felt by Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and individuals of all other faiths. Raising your voice to seek justice for the victims of senseless violence can never be termed as terrorism. This is precisely why the people from all walks of life including Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims have been asking for justice for the 1984 victims and their families. This has been my experience here in Canada. This sentiment was reinforced during my recent visit to India, particularly in Delhi.

When we think of a long spell of terrorism in the Punjab region of India, the hard and painful fact is that it was Punjabis, both Sikhs and Hindus, who endured misery the most. I have grown up listening to so many discomforting stories about how Punjabis had to bear the cost of terrorism through loss of life and property. No one would want this to happen to anyone in any segment of the world.

I feel that it is important to genuinely share the pain of the peace-loving, hard-working Sikh-Canadian community of which I am an integral part of. I will sum-up my feelings with a quote from Andrea Gibson,” You can have cold war with yourself, even in the summertime”.


About Ms. Kamal Khera – Kamal Khera is the Member of Parliament for Brampton West and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue. She is a registered nurse, community volunteer and a political activist. Ms. Khera serves on the National Finance Committee as a non-voting member.


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Brampton LRT assembly facility will support over 600 new jobs

Province announces new LRT assembly facility for light rail vehicles (LRVs) in Brampton.

Steven Del Duca, Minister of Economic Development and Growth, was in Brampton today to announce the future home of Alstom’s new LRT assembly facility, to be built in Brampton.

“This is where the vehicles will be assembled, that will help to carry our regional transit system into a new era,” said Del Duca. “The state-of-the-art light rail vehicles that will be built here, will be deployed on new LRT lines like Finch West and the Hurontario in Mississauga.”

“They are part of our government’s absolute, and unwavering, commitment to regional rail, and to helping people move more effectively, more efficiently and more safely across this region.”

Linda Jeffrey, the Mayor of Brampton, was at the announcement and thanked Del Duca for his work on building transit in the city. “I want to thank you for your advocacy in making sure that so much Provincial money comes to Brampton,” Jeffrey said. “You are like my special advocate at the Province.”

In May 2017, Ontario announced a contract with Alstom to provide 61 vehicles for light rail transit (LRT) projects in the GTHA, with an option to acquire an additional 44 vehicles.

The contract, which is worth $528 million, will create between 100 and 120 full-time jobs in the new Alstom facility in Brampton, and support an additional 400 to 500 spinoff jobs. It will ensure that Metrolinx has the high-quality vehicles needed to open its LRT projects in the GTHA on time.

Alstom is a French multinational company that provides rail transport vehicles, signaling systems and infrastructure. They manufacture high speed rail vehicles for the TGV, France’s intercity high-speed rail service, in addition to suburban, regional and metro trains and trams in systems around the world.

The Alstom Citadis Spirit light rail vehicles are to be configured to carry 120 seated and 216 standing passengers, with a length of up to 157 feet, with a white and silver colour theme for the exterior.

The Citadis Spirit is designed to operate reliably, even in cold environments. “Ontarians can be assured that the Alstom Citadis Spirit will be here and ready for them to commute back and forth to work, to school and to their appointments regardless of the weather conditions,” explained an Alstom representative who was present at the announcement.

Alstom is the supplier of light rail vehicles for Ottawa’s Confederation Line, a light rail system costing over $5.1 billion, with costs for the project being funded in part by the federal government and the province, while the City of Ottawa is funding a third, or $1.7 billion.

Metrolinx had originally planned to work with Bombardier who has a light rail division located in Thunder Bay, Ontario. However, Bombaridier has experienced challenges with delivery times for other projects like the Crosstown LRT which is being built in Toronto. As a result, Alstom was selected as a new supplier.

Since 2003, Ontario has invested about $16 billion in priority rapid transit projects in the GTHA, including $1.4 billion for the Hurontario LRT and $8.4 billion for rapid transit projects in the City of Toronto such as the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and the Finch West LRT.

In 2015, six Brampton Councillors voted not to allow the Hurontario LRT along Main Street to connect with the GO Transit station in Downtown Brampton, instead deciding to spend $4.4 million on new environmental assessments to study alternative routes along McLaughlin Road and Kennedy Road to reach the same destination.

Those alternative routes have already been studied and dismissed by experts. The new studies that will require at least four years to complete.

There is no plan currently in place to fund the route that is eventually selected. Metrolinx has pulled its funding commitment to the City of Brampton and has allocated those monies to other projects across Ontario.

The Hurontario LRT project is scheduled to begin construction next year, with completion in 2022.


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Alstom livery configurations.







Brampton councillors question value of integrity commissioner

Regional Councillor John Sprovieri.

At a City Council meeting today in Brampton, some Councillors questioned the need for an Integrity Commissioner to deal with complaints from the public against elected officials.

The discussion was sparked by a report from Brampton’s Integrity Commissioner, Guy Giorno, who found a complaint filed by six members of Council alleging a seventh member of Council contravened the Code of Conduct was without merit.

The allegation stated that the seventh member of Council breached the Code of Conduct when confidential information was revealed during a media interview. In his report, Giorno wrote that he could not find that the rules were contravened.

Over the past three years, Brampton’s two Integrity Commissioners have handled at least six complaints filed against Members of Council, many of which were filed by their own colleagues who also sit on Council. Prior to that, eight complaints were filed with the Integrity Commissioner in 2014 alone.

Regional Councillor John Sprovieri, himself, on the receiving end of several Integrity Commissioner investigations in this past term of office and before, stated that the taxpayers were not being well served by the Integrity Commissioner process.

“That really hasn’t achieved much, having an Integrity Commissioner,” said Sprovieri. “This report is very similar to past ones that we have dealt with, where the Commissioner states that there wasn’t enough evidence to find that the person violated the rules.”

Sprovieri tabled a motion that City Staff should provide a report to Council on the cost of the Integrity Commissioner, and whether or not, in Staff’s opinion, there is value in having an Integrity Commissioner. The motion passed 10-1 in a recorded vote, with Councillor Grant Gibson voting against the request.

According to Peter Fay, the City’s Clerk, the question is a mute issue as the Ontario Municipal Act requires that all municipalities must have an Integrity Commissioner by March, 2019.

“The Municipal Act was amended last year, and it will take effect in March 2019, making Integrity Commissioners mandatory for all 444 municipalities in the Province of Ontario with additional powers, and that law is in effect,” Fay explained.

Regional Councillor Elaine Moore agreed that a different process is needed at the City, saying that she believes a mediator might be a better option to assist Members of Council handle their differences.

“Councillor Sprovieri isn’t wrong when he makes the statement that it’s caused tension between Members of Council,” said Moore. “There needs to be a better way to resolve disagreements than the Integrity Commissioner.”

Not all were questioning the need for the Integrity Commissioner. Regional Councillor Gael Miles indicated that the Code of Conduct needs a check to hold Councillors accountable for their actions, citing situations in the past when Members of Council revealed confidential information or behaved badly.

“I totally support having a Code of Conduct and an Integrity Commissioner,” said Miles. “It makes each and every one of us think twice about our own actions, and it makes us accountable not only to each other, but to the public as well.”

Guy Giorno is a lawyer with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, one of the largest municipal law firms in Canada. He became the City’s Integrity Commisioner last April, under a contract valued at approximately $187,500 over three years that was approved by Council in early 2017. Giorno replaced Robert Swayze, who, during his time in the role, handled several complaints for the City including some made against Sprovieri.

In 2015, Swayze found Councillor Sprovieri guilty of breaking the Code of Conduct for disclosing confidential information, and recommended that his pay be suspended for 60 days. At the time, Councillor Moore moved for receipt of the report from Swayze, while ignoring the recommendation for suspension of pay. Sprovieri famously remained seated in Council Chambers during the tabling of that report, even though conflict of interest rules would have required him to leave the room.

Despite the pending legislation that requires municipalities must have an Integrity Commissioner, Sprovieri insisted that Staff should provide a report, requesting that they provide information on all the costs associated with the hiring of an Integrity Commissioner, and their opinion on the value of having one.

“As far as I am concerned, it hasn’t really worked,” replied Sprovieri. “All it’s caused is a lot of aggravation and animosity amongst us. It really kills the teamwork effort.”


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Ryerson President says Brampton to become a world leader

Ryerson University plans to implement programs that will make Brampton a hub for learning.

Stand UP for Brampton’s Paul Vicente and Rowena Santos met with the President of Ryerson University, Dr. Mohamed Lachemi, to discuss his vision for a new university in Brampton. Through collaboration, Ryerson will be a key part of the transformation of our downtown core resulting in economic growth and job creation in our city.

But how else will Ryerson help differentiate our city from other municipalities? In this final article we share Dr. Lachemi’s description of the programming at the new campus which will position Brampton a leader on the world stage.


Ryerson University Part III: Brampton as a world leader with specialized programming

Currently, Ryerson offers its 45,000 students in Toronto over 60 different undergraduate programs, but in Brampton, the program offering will be tailored.

“We don’t want to duplicate what we are already offering. We want to offer something that will be useful, something that will offer to serve the city in terms of job opportunities for those that go to the school.” Dr. Lachemi explained.

Increasingly, students need to be prepared for jobs of the future. Ryerson is responding to this need especially in Brampton, by prioritizing the mandate from the province to offer courses geared toward science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).

Dr. Mohamed Lachemi, President of Ryerson University speaking on a new university in Brampton.

Dr. Lachemi believes there is an area in which a huge gap exists in terms of talent and offers significant opportunities for students. He was excited in sharing that Ryerson University is planning to lead program development in Cyber Sciences and Security at their Brampton campus. This would be a groundbreaker for an institution to develop much needed talent.

“We have a broad vision for Brampton. We don’t want a school just like any other school. We want to create an opportunity for Brampton to shine, not just locally, but globally.”

Referring to cyber sciences and security, Dr. Lachemi explained that “We want the programming to focus on that aspect, but not just from the science and engineering side, but also from the business side. All of our partners here on Bay Street; everyone is telling us that cyber security is important.”

Financial institutions, banks, police services, governments, and utilities are looking at their operations and the new risks presented by global hackers looking to steal information or potentially cause disruption. The area of cyber security has become a top priority with burgeoning demand for skilled people.

Programming focused on cyber security would attract investment from around the world. Settled only fifteen minutes away from the country’s most important airport, and as mentioned in Part II of this series, Ryerson’s university campus in Brampton is at the center of the GTA’s innovation hub where it can reach out to both Toronto and Waterloo to bring them to the table.

“In terms of cyber security, when I am talking to banks, they have thousands of people working for them. That’s also an aspect of training. This is new stuff,” Dr. Lachemi explains while highlighting the demand for such programs within the private sector.

Dr. Lachemi speaking with Rowena Santos and Paul Vicente.

Ryerson is known for its integrated, hands-on and collaborative approach to learning as shared in Part 1 of this series of articles. It is the only university in the system that has an advisory board composed of industry leaders for each of its one programs. They advise on what’s important to the industry in order to create opportunities for the students they hire.

“I think at Brampton we will focus on building a platform where students will be walking alongside with people in the industry and benefit from that experience. We need industry leaders to be involved.”

Dr. Lachemi believes that the new university in our city is poised to become a world-class source for talent. “Brampton can be that hub; it can become a global center for cyber security. It will differentiate Brampton from anything else in the country, I tell you.”

After our meeting with Dr. Lachemi, we felt incredibly inspired by what’s to come. Ryerson’s commitment to collaborate and help build our city with a vision to make Brampton a global center for cyber security will have economic and social ripple effects across generations. Stand UP for Brampton looks forward to this transformational growth.

In case you missed it, here is the entire series of articles generated from our meeting with the President of Ryerson, Dr. Mohamed Lachemi.

Part I: Community collaboration to build a city – Click here.

Part II: Economic Benefits and the Innovation Hub – Click here.

Part III: Brampton as a world leader with specialized programming – Click here.


Photos by Shelby Morell.


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Paul Vicente, Dr. Mohamed Lachemi, and Rowena Santos.

University to bring massive change to Brampton

Ryerson University is a public research university located in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Stand UP for Brampton’s Paul Vicente and Rowena Santos met with the President of Ryerson University, Dr. Mohamed Lachemi, to discuss Ryerson’s proposal for a new university. From that meeting it was clear that Brampton has found a collaborative partner committed to community building. This is the second of a three-part series.


Ryerson University Part II: Economic benefits and the Innovation Hub

Promoting innovation and business development are hallmarks for Ryerson. Their new campus in Brampton is uniquely positioned to engage the city’s young and diverse population.

“We are in the business of talent development. Our role is education. We think that there is an opportunity for a university like ours to capture the talent of the region,” explained Dr. Lachemi. “Brampton is a city with a lot of youth, but it’s also a city that has this aspect of diversity where I can tell you, for families, the priority for them is education for their kids.”

Ryerson has already proven through its collaborative approach in Toronto that it can do a lot to engage the business community to provide its students with real-life work experiences that will prepare them for the workplace of the future. But the benefits of having a local university go further.

“When you have a business idea, location, location, location is important. I personally think that Brampton has a huge strategic advantage in terms of its location; You are fifteen minutes from the airport, a major airport, the most important airport in the country.”

There will be an immediate and long term economic ripple effect when Ryerson comes to Brampton. Construction, hiring of faculty, demand for campus housing, student materials and supplies will be imminent. Existing businesses will be supported by more customers downtown with students and visitors coming to the city. This will also open the market for new cafes, restaurants, and small businesses.

The Ryerson campus will organically provide support for the creative energy already bubbling in our city, possibly leading to a boom in the arts and culture sector in Brampton, another important ingredient for economic growth. In the longer term, students who choose to live in Brampton after graduating will be generating a higher income and have more money to spend locally.

Dr. Mohamed Lachemi, President of Ryerson University.

Through the leadership of Dr. Lachemi and partnership with the city, we will attract businesses around the world interested in the talent that Brampton has to offer.

“I was in Mumbai, and there, they are very excited about our project in Brampton. Last week I was in Dubai, talking about some collaboration, and people there mention to me, ‘I heard you are doing something in Brampton.’ Everyone is very positive about the project.”

Dr. Lachemi emphasizes Brampton’s unique geographical positioning within the innovation corridor of the GTA.

“Brampton is the connector between Waterloo and Toronto, and if you can have a university like Ryerson that is focused on innovation and entrepreneurship at the center of the corridor; with the creation of an innovation hub at the center, we can attract people from both sides. It’s like a magnet attracting talent and people from both sides.”

This is part of why the collaboration with Metrolinx is key. Local excitement within our city, across the GTA and abroad, matched with Ryerson’s entrepreneurial spirit and collaborative approach mean that people want to seize this opportunity.

The Board of Directors of Ryerson, a panel comprised of some of the top executives in Canada, including companies like Rogers, Brookfield, Canada Infrastructure Bank, and others, are inspired by the vision of a university of Brampton. “They are telling me to move faster. Go, go, go! That’s the message I am getting from them now,” Dr. Lachemi says.

The good news is that the land around the property owned by Metrolinx near the GO terminal in downtown Brampton is rumoured as the preferred location. The area is an ideal seeding ground for transformational change in the city. Studies show that the economic impact would be substantial.

Downtown Brampton. (Google)

According to a report issued by the Council of Ontario’s Universities in July 2017, “spending generated as a result of the activities of Ontario universities spurs regional economic and social development. It is responsible for the creation of 478,096 FTE [Full Time Equivalent] jobs and contributes $42.4 billion to Ontario’s GDP. But the impact of universities also goes well beyond the ripple effects of spending.”

In June 2016, Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon attempted to push a motion at Council for more job growth by highlighting the low and uncompetitive employment activity rate in the city at only 33%. After decades of residential development, it’s time to open the doors to business and employment opportunities for our residents. Ryerson will propel this.

New economic activity is expected in Brampton as soon as Ryerson begins developing and settling in. We will begin to shift revenue generated in the city – one that is currently relying on a heavy residential property tax base, to a more balanced structure that includes a healthier level of commercial and businesses in the city.

“Others have missed the opportunity,” says Dr. Lachemi. “Ryerson gets it.”

Discussing Ryerson’s university proposal with Dr. Mohamed Lachemi.

In our third and final article generated from our meeting, we will discuss Dr. Lachemi’s ideas on the unique programming that Ryerson will offer – another differentiating opportunity that will position Brampton as a world leader and specialist.


Photos by Shelby Morell.


Part I: Community collaboration to build a city – Click here.

Part II: Economic Benefits and the Innovation Hub – Click here.

Part III: Brampton as a world leader with specialized programming – Click here.


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Dr. Mohamed Lachemi’s provides a bird’s-eye tour of Ryerson University’s extensive Toronto campus as it can be seen from his 13th floor office.



Ryerson University President enthusiastic about Brampton’s future

Ryerson University’s eagerly anticipated arrival in Brampton is a game changer. Stand UP for Brampton had the privilege to meet with the President of Ryerson University, Dr. Mohamed Lachemi to discuss Ryerson’s proposal for a new university to be built in Brampton. This is part one of a three-part series generated from our discussion.


Ryerson University Part I: Community collaboration to build a city

Sitting on the 13th floor of the President’s office overlooking Ryerson’s downtown Toronto campus, Rowena Santos and Paul Vicente of Stand Up for Brampton met with Dr. Lachemi, inspired by a view of what could also be possible for Brampton. It didn’t take long for Dr. Lachemi to share his own enthusiasm about the potential in our city.

“I am excited that Ryerson is going to Brampton,” said Dr. Lachemi. “Brampton has a lot to offer. It has youth, it has energy. I am very interested to work with stakeholders and see how we can benefit the population.”

Ryerson’s downtown Toronto campus currently serves 45,000 students, and classrooms are being fully utilized. Dr. Lachemi explained that that it took several years to reach this point of success especially for the community.

Dr. Mohamed Lachemi, President of Ryerson University speaking with with Rowena Santos and Paul Vicente.

“The role of an urban university, when we look at city building, is not just about ourselves, it’s about the communities around us. And as a university in the 21st century, if we don’t think about the communities that surround us, we will not serve the population well.”

Dr. Lachemi has been at Ryerson for the last twenty years, and has witnessed the full transformation of the area in which they are currently situated. “This area, twenty years ago, was kind of empty; with no life here,” he describes.

Dr. Mohamed Lachemi

His description of what was twenty years ago can be compared to the feel of our own downtown Brampton today. Being one of the fastest growing municipalities in the country our downtown core is lagging.

You need a catalyst to attract talented people including a comfortable space for experimenting and interacting with mentors, Dr. Lachemi explained. “A university is not about building walls; it is about opening doors with your neighbours and collaborating with people. That is what I see in the opportunity for downtown Brampton.”

Ryerson’s expansion into Brampton appears to be an opportunity for everyone. Now at full capacity at its current location, Ryerson is ready to expand as soon as possible, taking with it a successful experience in transforming a barren block into a booming hub of creative and economic activity in Toronto.

“I think Brampton needs that anchor; a university in the downtown area, and that will bring more businesses, more collaboration and more opportunities.”

Dr. Lachemi provided a number of examples of collaborations benefiting students, the community, and the economy. Ryerson’s business school is located on Bay Street, a partnership that benefits the private sector and gives students direct networking and professional access to heart of the financial district.

Ryerson’s collaboration with St. Michael’s Hospital is another example where the university has a direct presence in occupying an entire floor. Engineering and science students work alongside with clinicians in the hospital, in an institute for research, but in partnership they also created an innovation hub called the Biomedical Zone.

Dr. Lachemi is excited about the great partners the university will be working with in Brampton including Sheridan College, the City of Brampton and the local business community.

“I would say the nature of the work we do here is to focus on partnership and collaboration. I think the way that I see an innovation university in the 21st century, you need to push boundaries. You need to think out of the box. You need to develop strategic partnerships.”

Innovation Corridor: The GO Transit Kitchener Line which connects Toronto-Brampton-Waterloo.

Ryerson’s vision to expand in Brampton coincides with local demand from a growing population where immediate access to transit is an issue. The partnership with Metrolinx was discussed as a natural solution for students to access transit. But Dr. Lachemi also described Metrolinx as a collaboration that puts Brampton at a strategic advantage within the innovation hub.

“If you take the train from Toronto, going to Waterloo, Brampton is the mid-point. So I need to think about a way for us to capture this, and Metrolinx can be a strategic partner in that aspect, for sure. The location is extremely important, and the linkage to both cities, to Waterloo and Toronto, is extremely powerful.”

Being directly linked to transit and the innovation hub opens new doors for our students and community creating further opportunities to expand.

“A lot of people said you are coming here with only a thousand or two thousand students. I told them we are not talking about two thousand students. We are talking about the big picture at this point. You have to think about what kind of synergies you can create for a better future for Brampton.”

Ryerson President Mohamed Lachemi, Paul Vicente, and Rowena Santos.

We have been inspired by Ryerson’s creative community approach to city building and we are excited to see what this partnership will bring for our city.

In the second part of our series, we will delve into the economic benefits of Ryerson in Brampton and we will end with our third article discussing the unique programming that Ryerson will bring to our city.

Photos by Shelby Morell.


Part I: Community collaboration to build a city – Click here.

Part II: Economic Benefits and the Innovation Hub – Click here.

Part III: Brampton as a world leader with specialized programming – Click here.


Did you like this article? Sign up here to follow this site, and follow us on Facebook.


Paul Vicente, Dr. Mohamed Lachemi, and Rowena Santos.




Brampton Councillor Elaine Moore announces retirement

Brampton Ward 1 & 5 Councillor Elaine Moore has announced that she will be retiring from politics after the current Council term.

Stand UP for Brampton wishes to acknowledge Regional Councillor Elaine Moore for her many years of service to the City of Brampton and the residents of Wards 1 and 5.

Stand UP for Brampton advocates and works to raise the voices of the people of Brampton by actively engaging the community to move our city forward.

We look forward to what this means for the future of our city and the direction of the next council, particularly for our neighbours in Wards 1 and 5.

Paul Vicente and Rowena Santos

Things to do for March Break in Brampton


As far as we are concerned, Brampton is the center of the universe, and there is always a lot to do in our beautiful city. March Break is no exception. Here are a few ideas for you.

1. Celebrate hockey.

Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour is heading to Brampton for a celebration of hockey. The two-day hockey festival begins on Saturday, March 10 at noon at Garden Square, in Brampton, and will conclude Sunday evening following the Rogers Hometown Hockey outdoor viewing party. The weekend will feature broadcast hosts Ron MacLean and Tara Slone, meet-and-greet opportunities with NHL alumni Darryl Sittler, Rick Vaive and Wendel Clark, live local entertainment and engaging activities for the whole family. In addition, the Hockey Night In Canada: Punjabi Edition broadcast team will be on-site on Sunday as part of the weekend festivities. Check it out here.

2. Go to an art gallery.

Beaux Arts Brampton is a great place to explore new art and see artists at work. Throughout March Break, they will have a special exhibit called “Hockey Tribute, Sign Paintings by Dale Boyd”, featuring a collection of hand-painted signs celebrating one of Canada’s most beloved sports, hockey! Learn more here.

3. Fun at the museum.

For the kids, nothing beats a learning trip to the museum; check out Peel Art Gallery Museum + Archives (PAMA) during the March Break, as they have a ton of activities on tap. Throughout the week, you can enjoy family art and stories, multiple arts and crafts classes and events, outdoor activities on the historic grounds, animal face painting, and you can even meet and learn about guide dogs. Educational, creative, and fun for the whole family! Visit their website for all the details.

4. Go skating!

The mercury is hovering near zero again, so that means the rinks are open! Take advantage of all the awesome skate parks that Brampton has to offer. Enjoy a skate through beautiful Gage Park in downtown Brampton or visit the skating trail at Chinguacousy Park with its 2,000 square metres of winter fun, or the Mount Pleasant skating rink. Skate rentals are avialable, and bring your favorite warm drink or grab a bite on the way.

5. City activities.

The City of Brampton has a list of fun things to do for March Break. They offer a great selection of camps, drop-ins and registered programs to keep kids active and learning. Check it out by clicking here!

6. Tease your taste buds.

Foodies rejoice! The Taste of Downtown Brampton presents a culinary experience for foodies to explore the wonderful delights downtown Brampton has to offer. From specials, to prix-fixe menus, the Taste has a tasty option for everyone to explore and enjoy. To view this year’s participants and deals, visit their website here.

7. Go to a library.

Brampton has an amazing collection of great libraries across the city. Reinvigorate your love for reading or instill that love in a new young reader. All branches have a number of activities during March Break, and the new spectacular Springdale Branch has just opened. Check out their calendar of events for the week here.

8. Plant a seed.

The Brampton Horticultural Society presents their sixth Annual Seedy Saturday & Garden Show. Admission is free, with lots of free parking. You can participate in multiple offerings including their seed exchange, swap and buy seeds, checkout their exhibits and presentations, and they will help you to create gardening communities. A large selection of used gardening books are offered, and you can “Ask an Expert”. Also, a great Kids’ zone helps kids learn about seeds & plants, and be sure to enjoy the Seedy Café. The first 100 visitors receive a free plant. All the details are here.

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