Aurora announces exciting partnership with Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute

Key ingredient in town’s strategic plan set to move forward

Press release

The Town of Aurora is thrilled to announce a unique and innovative partnership with the award-winning Canadian Food and Wine Institute (CFWI) at Niagara College. The partnership will see the CFWI offer short-term and part-time training in a newly-restored Armoury. The renovated Armoury, located in the historic Town Park, will become a vibrant community gathering space and home to a world-class training facility specializing in culinary skill building, commercial brewing and viticulture.

The partnership helps Aurora achieve its Strategic Plan goal of bringing post-secondary training to town, while addressing the ongoing need for community space. The Armoury building is set to undergo a $4 million restoration project that will create a versatile space that will not only support the Institute, but allow for community gatherings, town hall meetings, events and training opportunities. The space will be open to the public and made available for rentals upon request and may be open as early as the end of 2018.

“This partnership is the perfect match. We’ve been able to take a prestigious school and match it up with an equally prestigious building,” says Mayor Geoffrey Dawe. “This is going to provide the Town with some very special community space while offering state-of-art training opportunities for residents and visitors.”

Under the agreement, the Town of Aurora will continue to own and maintain the Armoury, and will make investments needed to convert the building into a world-class training facility. The CFWI will operate through the new facility, offering the same signature training programs also offered at Niagara College’s specialized campuses in Niagara.

Through the Canadian Food and Wine Institute, Niagara College will introduce its Expert Edge Corporate Training facility into the heart of downtown Aurora. Expert Edge delivers one-time training or part-time instruction to industry professionals, enthusiasts and for team-building exercises in an intimate and unmatched learning environment.

“Recognition is growing for the expertise the CFWI has cultivated in the culinary, wine and beer sciences, and we’re excited to share our unique expertise with new audiences,” says Craig Youdale, Dean of Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute. “Bringing our Expert Edge training to Aurora reflects the mandate of the CFWI to develop the food, wine and beer industries not only in Niagara, but across the country.”

The facility will include incubator space, a culinary demonstration theatre and a wine and beverage sensory lab. Initial conceptual plans include a classroom, teaching kitchen, reception/event/multipurpose space and an extensive shaded patio overlooking Town Park.

Aurora Councillor Paul Pirri was a long-time advocate of bringing a micro-brewery incubator to the Town as a way of promoting small business development and providing space for industry partners to network and collaborate.

“As soon as I brought my idea to staff, they took it and ran with it. They did a phenomenal job in bringing this partnership to fruition,” says Councillor Paul Pirri. “I’m excited that Council has embraced the vision of bringing something truly unique and exciting to the Town.”

The Canadian Food and Wine Institute at Niagara College is home to unique post-secondary and part-time programs in food, wine and beer education. It is home to Benchmark, the College’s teaching restaurant, as well as the Niagara College Teaching Winery and Teaching Brewery – the first of their kind in Canada. In 2018, it will also be home to Canada’s first teaching distillery.

Niagara College offers 130+ diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest part-time studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, horticulture and esthetics.

The relationship between Aurora and the Niagara region is steeped in history, going back to the 19th century. The Aurora Armoury is the former home of the Queen’s York Rangers, previously known as the York Militia. The unit fought in the Niagara region during the War of 1812 and the Queen’s York Rangers were awarded three battle honours by the Queen for their service in the Battle of Queenston Heights, the Niagara Campaign and the defence of Canada from 1812-1815.

The Town Park is currently home to some of Aurora’s most popular events, including: Concerts in the Park, the Aurora Farmers’ Market, Movies in the Park, Arctic Adventure, Aurora Borealis and the Multicultural Festival. The park also features a baseball diamond, splash pad, playground and bandshell.

“We are incredibly excited about the opportunities this partnership presents and are already exploring how Niagara College will be able to enhance our already incredible community events. A lot of work has gone into developing this partnership and ensuring it is something that benefits our residents and improves upon the fantastic culture and sense of community pride that exists here in Aurora,” says Mayor Geoffrey Dawe.

The Town of Aurora will welcome Craig Youdale, Dean of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute at Niagara College, to the General Committee meeting in the Council Chambers at Town Hall on Tuesday, December 5 at 7 p.m. Dean Youdale will share the institute’s vision for the space and details of the partnership agreement.

For more information on the future of the Armoury and to view artistic renderings of the restoration plans, visit

For more information on Niagara College, visit and for more information on the Canadian Food and Wine Institute, visit

About the Town of Aurora

The Town of Aurora is home to more than 60,000 people and 1,500 businesses and boasts the ideal combination of small-town friendliness and urban amenities. Located just 30 minutes north of Toronto, Aurora’s safe and historic neighbourhoods, picturesque parks and trails, and extensive sports and cultural amenities attract individuals, families and businesses looking to be a part of an innovative and sustainable community where neighbours care and businesses thrive.

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