All signs point north for a bustling spread of colleges and universities that make the grade in scenery and specialties.
By Selena Fragassi
To Americans, Canada may best be known for its national sport of hockey yet for planners looking to break the ice in a new destination, the many campuses across the provinces offer a number of benefits to make it worth the trip. Here we look at three of the brightest northern lights.
MacEwan University/Edmonton, Alberta
This downtown campus plays host to a majority of high-level corporate clients, including the local government. “We’ve recently seen a resurgence in academic conferences. Our faculty are involved in research, which attracts a number of people from across Canada or the states who are gathering for professional associations,” says Erin Walton, senior conference coordinator. In May, MacEwan will host an international conference for North America and Mexico, which gives Walton the chance to show new visitors around town. “One of the great things about hosting conferences in Canada for an international client is that they may not have been exposed to our country before since it’s not a big tourist destination, “ Walton states. “We partner with the tourism bureaus to make sure people from out-of-state get the full package experience.” Onsite, planners can look forward to the vast array of spaces at their disposal, from the Paul Byrne Hall with floor-to-ceiling windows that can fit up to 200 people to the Heart, the largest function space onsite, that fits up to 500 reception-style. In terms of services, MacEwan offers an onsite catering manager, online registration with customized website and nine hotel rooms available year-round. One great benefit to booking in Alberta says Walton, “The Goods and Services Tax is only five percent.”
Georgian College/Barrie, Ontario
Sometimes things are greener on the other side, as in Georgian College which resides just over the border in Ontario. “We are proud to be voted a Green Employer the last several years,” exclaims Patty Bradley, conference services manager. “The design of our buildings is set up for sustainability, leaving as little carbon footprint on the environment as possible; many of them were recently renovated with lights and power restriction.” One such building is the campus’ brand-new Sadlin Center, a health and wellness building that includes six health clinics and massage and spa services. The 150,000-square-foot space offers state-of-the-art technology, ergonomically-designed tables and chairs and full A/V and smart boards in every classroom. “The Sadlin is really focused on the clinical experience so we’ve been involved with many dental and optometry associations and host pharmaceutical meetings. We partner with a local hospital as well to offer experiences with our nursing program and massage therapy onsite,” says Bradley. Georgian College also offers a 20,000-square-foot Athletic Centre that has a dining capacity of 1,100 as well as lecture theatres that seat up to 700. Exhibit space and a variety of onsite catering packages are also available.
Memorial University/Corner Brook, Newfoundland
The Grenfell Campus of Memorial University sits right on a hill with an abundance of nature on every side for every season. “The setting is so important in hosting an event,” cautions Marie-Claude Renaud, conference marketing coordinator. “Here people have the opportunity to be amongst trees and parks and trails; they can go snowshoeing in winter and take long walks in the summer. It’s a tranquil, relaxing environment.” And when organizations want to get down to business, the facilities at Memorial University offer perks, too. “We have a new extension, the Arts and Science Building, that was just completed with rooms that are top-notch.” In addition to student paintings on exhibit, this wing offers high-tech, A/V equipped rooms with an on-call technical team that can help with setup and operation. Even better, the whole Fine Arts theatre can be rented for more animated purposes. “Whatever planners need, we are here to make it happen.”