Letter to the editor re: Trent Lands Plan

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This letter is in response to a thoughtful article in the January 16, 2017 edition of Arthur about the Trent Lands Plan. I would like to provide additional information regarding some of the important questions raised.

The Trent Lands Plan (2013) builds on the extensive 2006 report on the endowment lands. The 2006 report is very detailed and is available in its entirety on the Trent website:  trentu.ca/trentlandsplan. In 2013 administration undertook a series of extensive consultations on campus and in the community to review the 2006 report’s recommended uses for the endowment land parcels. The output of these sessions was a recommitment to and strengthening of the guiding principles for any developments (with the acronym RESPECT) and an updated map showing the endowment lands and potential uses to guide future decision making. The pending opportunity to bid on the new municipal arena was certainly a key consideration of this planning exercise, and it allowed us to confirm interest in submitting a bid, and the ideal site.

It is important to note that the Trent lands are divided into 3 areas: the core campus, nature areas (which are 50% of our University lands) and the “endowment lands” which are generally intended to be utilized to advance the mission of the University and enhance the local community. 

It is not intended and in fact it is unlikely that all identified parcels would be developed.  Some are largely inaccessible, or the terrain would be difficult to respond to. Some have been set aside for research and academic purposes, such as the Sustainable Agriculture Experimental Farm, the development of the Trent Research and Innovation Park, a “Sustainable Village”, and maybe even additional housing to respond to our growing enrollment. These are the priorities for exploration because of their potential to generate revenue for the University, to enhance the student experience, and to meet community needs.

As each project moves from conceptual to a more active exploration and feasibility stage, appropriate environmental, archaeological and other studies will be conducted at the outset. Environmental concerns have resulted in modifications to plans, such as the undeveloped space between the initial and final Water Street residences to accommodate a wetland, and the design of the new arena being placed to also respond to a water course.

For the Research and Innovation Park specifically, which is being developed in partnership with the City of Peterborough, the City has retained a consulting team to complete a Master Plan. This is a high level guide to the overall development of the 85 acres. The Draft Plan process is a formal planning process under the Planning Act and will commence in February of 2017. Public input is a part of that process. The Draft Plan will focus on the first phase of the research park, envisioned to be approximately 25 acres. To support the draft plan submission the consulting team has commissioned several studies to add to a body of work already underway by the City. For example, a Phase 1 and 2 Archaeological Assessment has been completed for the initial 25 acres. A Species at Risk Assessment is being completed. Other studies under preparation are a Hydrogeological and Geotechnical Report, a Storm Water Management Report, and a Tree Inventory and Preservation Plan. A similar set of studies are underway or in the planning stages for the new municipal arena. Commitments such as replacing every lost tree with three new trees will help mitigate some of the impact of the developments that over time, will position Trent to attract more students, expand our contribution to local and global environmental challenges, and contribute to the prosperity and well being of the region.

The issues that the author of the article raises are important and will remain a focus of our path forward. We have a commitment to transparent and proactive communication about the lands plan and welcome questions and input. To assist in furthering this, we will update the lands plan website with this additional information to provide clearer information for those interested in learning more.

-Julie Davis
Vice President External Relations and Advancement