What Does the Future Hold for Prince George?
Prince George, B.C. – A panel of dignitaries held a discussion regarding the importance of campus and community collaboration at the Prince George Playhouse this morning.
Just one day removed from the end of the Canada Winter Games, the issue was tackled by Canada’s Governor General David Johnston, UNBC president Daniel Weeks, and City mayor Lyn Hall.
“I think Prince George sets the gold standard for that,” said Johnston, who previously was president of the University of Waterloo. “Just look at this (UNBC) remarkable university and look at the great success you’ve had with the Canada Winter Games.”
He told the audience he sees great parallels between the schools.
“They’re both very unconventional and they’re both relatively new. Waterloo is about 55 years old now and UNBC 25. Secondly I would think that they’ve been successful institutions if you look at institutions across North America,” he said.
“I think part of the secret of that success has been an ability to draw local strengths to identify what is special about this place and draw from it and contribute to it with a very clear strategy. In the case of UNBC building a northern medical school with a relatively small population of students but in terms of quality and outreach the impact has been very effective.”
He said one of the keys to such success is local ingenuity noting Waterloo began with local business people saying it needed an engineering school and built a university from there.
“Our community moved over the 50 years from being a very strong industrial community and in the space of about 20 years it lost beer, whiskey, tires, furniture, textiles, meat. It could have been a waste land but it re-invented itself largely around IT (information technology) communication technologies.”
Moving forward, Daniel Weeks told the audience the school needs to capitalize on its strategic location.
“The things that made Prince George great 100 years ago are no different (than today). We have to take that advantage and transform it into opportunities,” he said. “We need to be a globally connected university. We have connections across the world and it’s due to the research we do.”
Lyn Hall added the key is to remain globally competitive.
“Prince George is the hub and a big thing for us is we need to enhance that (to attract students). Students require specific things like transportation and housing. I would love to see student housing built next to the Wood Innovation & Design Centre.”
He also spoke of the importance of building relationships.
“As a community it’s all about re-connecting on these relationships and knowing who your stakeholders are. We will always be forestry driven but we are a university city.”