Smart Freight Centre Launch Remarks by Dr. Rhonda Lenton, President & Vice-Chancellor, York University

speaker at podium
Dr. Rhonda Lenton, President and Vice-Chancellor, York University, speaks at Smart Freight Centre Launch, April 18, 2019

April 18, 2019, Launch of Smart Freight Centre, Brampton, ON

Good morning everyone. Bonjour et bienvenue. And Boozhoo. Welcome to all of you. I am delighted to be here with MP Khera, Regional Chair Iannicca, and our colleagues from U of T and McMaster as we celebrate the launch of the SFC.

Last month, on March 26th, York celebrated our 60th anniversary. In six short decades, we have grown to become Canada’s third largest interdisciplinary teaching and research institution with more than 50,000 students, and 7,000 academic and non-academic staff. While much has changed over the past 60 years, we remain steadfast in our vision of offering a broad demographic of students access to a high-quality, research-intensive university committed to the public good.

Earlier this month, Times Higher Education named York 26th in the world and 5th in Canada in their inaugural Impact Rankings, which are based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. This recognition highlights how universities are contributing to international efforts to build a more socially, economically and environmentally sustainable world. The rankings also demonstrates that in a rapidly changing Global Knowledge Economy, universities have never been more important.

Nearly two-thirds of new jobs will require a postsecondary credential, while up to 70 per cent of existing jobs face disruption by automation and artificial intelligence. Every day, York has the privilege of preparing the next generation of globally educated citizens and leaders by providing them with the skills and experiences they need to adapt and thrive, all while taking on society’s most urgent challenges.

To support the SFC, York will develop new pedagogical approaches in the domains of e-comerce and city logistics, and provide work-integrated learning opportunities that will prepare the data scientists, e-commerce specialists and data-driven city builders who will contribute to increasing Canada’s competitiveness in goods movement. Ultimately, the SFC will help Canada be a more attractive location for international shippers, distributors and manufacturers.

The SFC is also evidence of how universities are uniquely positioned to facilitate interdisciplinary and multi-sector research collaboration, driving the innovation and creativity needed to tackle the big problems facing the world today – issues like climate change, social inequality and, of course, the efficient movement of goods and the growth of our economy.

York is expanding our research through international partnerships and by building networks that bring our students, staff, and faculty together with other universities, private and public sector leaders, nonprofit organizations, and our government partners.

The goal of this collaboration is simple: maximum impact for the communities we serve. Through the leadership of innovative York researchers like Professor Peter Park, we are proud to support the SFC’s efforts to build and improve transportation networks that will facilitate better access to goods and services.

By building on our historic strengths and leveraging new opportunities and new infrastructure, York is connecting our commitment to social justice, our innovation in public policy, and our leadership in science and technology to the development of inclusive, smart and sustainable communities in the GTA, in Canada, and around the world.

On behalf of York University, congratulations to all of our partners on the launch of the SFC. We look forward to continued collaboration on this important initiative.

Thank you. Merci. Miigwech.