This Monday, October 28, Peterborough’s City Councillors will have voted for a final time on a city staff recommendation to move a proposed arena to Fleming College from Trent University. This was due to a law passing that saw wetlands being designated as provincially significant. Locally, the arena development has been a topic of conversation, with people showing a lot of interest and engagement on the issue. These are just some of the community’s reactions to the recent developments from the community ahead of the hotly-anticipated Council Meeting.
The Sacred Water Circle
Dorothy Taylor, Founder of Sacred Water Circle:
“The Sacred Water Circle is a community volunteer group comprised of native and non-native members representing multiple faiths. Leading with prayer and spiritual courage, the SWC seeks to restore the balance between humanity and water. The concern of a lot of young people today is that of climate change. The encroachment into the Wetland and Trent Land Sanctuary can only contribute to this overwhelming environmental concern. The announcement today that Peterborough City Council has voted to change the location to a more appropriate site is overwhelmingly happy news. It is a victory for Mother Earth and all life, great and small, that call the Wetland home.
“Concerned citizens, students, and the Indigenous community came together to challenge the original plan to build a Twin Pad Arena and Olympic-size pool on a Wetland location. When the SWC became involved, the construction was mere weeks away from breaking ground; it was a done deal. It is a beautiful testimony to how a community can work together to successfully challenge an almost insurmountable task of fighting both the City of Peterborough and Trent University – two very influential and powerful organizations. Mayor Diane Therrien and Council and City Staff should be congratulated for this amazing news. I thank them very much.”
Jacob Rodenburg, Executive Director of Camp Kawartha:
“Thousands of children of all ages come to the Camp Kawartha Environment Centre to learn about sustainability, ecology, and the importance of re-wilding our urban spaces. Since opening over 10 years ago, more than 40,000 kids have explored, learned, and connected with nature at our centre. We happen to be located right next to where the proposed arena/pool may be built. Our students, campers, and forest schoolers spend a great deal of time in the wildlife sanctuary and have come to love that space – especially the area which is slated for development. This is their classroom – full of rich learning opportunities. These children know where the deer yard is, where the porcupines hang out, and where to find songbirds like the American Redstart.
“It was a hard lesson for children to learn that the very space they love and have come to call home may be paved over. We are heartened to hear that the site may be moved – but we also worry about the impact at Fleming College. I would urge the Council to consider using Brown sites as an alternative location for the arena. In this age of rapid urbanization and climate change, we need to think about green and wild spaces as not simply areas that are empty and need development – but to think instead about the concept of “development” as also meaning how we can develop and enhance nature. That we actively seek to increase biodiversity – to go beyond doing less harm, to doing more good. For example, an arena on a brownfield could be an exemplar of what is possible green design, showcasing passive and solar design, geothermal energy and building in a way which includes nature; semi-permeable parking, planting pollinator gardens, native trees, and a living roof. Peterborough and Trent can show the world that people and nature can share the same space, so that both may thrive.”
Councillor Stephen Wright
Councillor Wright said that students are vital to civic life in the city and that students should be involved in municipal decision-making, as well as offering advice to Councillors. Councillor Wright went on to say that Indigenous and environmental concerns should not have been ignored in the proposed development of the Twin Pad Arena at Trent University and stated that he did not support the arena at Trent. One concern that was raised was potential environmental harm, and he suggested that the Peterborough Environmental Advisory Committee should look at the proposed site at Fleming College so that environmental concerns are not repeated. Councillor Wright acknowledged the importance of sports tourism and said that he has a preference for an arena, including a pool, in the North end of Peterborough at other locations. He also wondered how much of the $3.2 million already spent on the arena at Trent is transferable to the Fleming Site.