HMC expansion to play big role in city’s future


Sheridan will expand the Hazel McCallion Campus to include more non-business programs and enhance the role the college will play in Mississauga’s future, president Jeff Zabudsky says.

“We have a very prominent role to play,” he said in an interview at an Economic Development Day conference on Monday. “Expansions start next month. The school of business will include more programs such as creative writing, publishing, digital media.”

Zabudsky, one of many local officials on hand at the event, took part in a discussion with youth at the Art Gallery of Mississauga and organized by the Mississauga Youth Advisory Committee.

“Events like these are great,” said Andres Francken, a first-year student in the York-Sheridan Design Program. “When you mix young people with professionals, you find out how we can contribute, and the professionals know we’re here.”

Trevor Sookraj, chairperson of the youth advisory committee, summed up the discussions between high school students and professionals. Suggestions the attending youth came up with included need for more projects like Downtown21 (a multi-phase project to rejuvenate the downtown), specific focus on diversity and multiculturalism to create a strong community and bridge the generation gap.

The youth attending the event also pointed out that non-profits could provide mentorship programs and community connections for them. They also emphasized the continued involvement of the youth in decision-making processes at municipal level.

Mississauga professionals, high school and college students participated in the two discussion sessions. A balance of students and professionals at each table was pre-determined by the organizers.

“Youth have a lot to say and it really benefits them being able to talk with professionals from the different sectors, seeing a variety of perspectives and becoming more engaged in the decisions and conversations affecting them,” said Sookraj, 17, a student at Glenforest Secondary School. He also serves as a student trustee for the Peel District School Board and is a vice president for the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association.

Guests included mayor Hazel McCallion, Mississauga East-Cooksville MPP Dipika Damerla and business professionals John Fisher and Sheldon Leiba.

“We need to care for our youth,” said McCallion, “not only from an employment perspective but also to look at the stress related to it.”

Fisher, the business information officer for the Mississauga Business Enterprise Centre, outlined entrepreneurial opportunities available for youth through programs such as Summer Company and the Canada Youth Business Foundation. The programs focus on young people from 15-29 years and 18-39 years, respectively.

“Coaching, training and mentoring opportunities are available along with up to a $3,000 grant for the first category and up to $45,000 loan for the second category of entrepreneurs,” said Fisher.

Francken, 19, said that Sheridan, along with University of Toronto Mississauga, is playing a great role in the development of the city.

“What I’m hoping for is that thanks to events like this there will be more cooperation between the youth and people in power,” he said. “It kind of builds a bridge between both groups,” he said.

Leiba, president of the Mississauga Board of Trade, expressed faith in the ability of businesses to rejuvenate themselves in the face of economic adversity.

“One of the silver linings of the economic downturn was that businesses had to think outside the box,” he said. “Innovation was seen in action.”

All professionals and entrepreneurs stressed that Mississauga youth can play important roles in the town’s future economic progress.

“I think that if we’re able to involve more of the population among the youth it will enhance the opportunities that everyone has,” said Francken. “We need to look to look at the education system, really need to focus on the primary and secondary schools. Making school children aware at an early age about the opportunities in Mississauga instead of looking at Toronto.”