I went to a consultation event on Phase Two of the Trent Lands Plan. The event took place on Tuesday, February 4 in the Great Hall in Champlain College. There were small desserts served, as well as coffee and tea before a presentation. There were also information boards that attendees could look at, about the history of the Trent Lands Plan to date, and instructions for group discussion.
When I stood outside the Great Hall before the event, some students told me they turned around because the cafeteria was closed. This is concerning because it means a few more people could have participated.
The Trent Lands Plan appears to be in the middle of winter, because there was a focus on the vision statement after over a year of consolations for Phase One, as one student pointed out in frustration. In addition, three sites are being developed or proposed while consultations of the Trent Lands Plan are ongoing, including a Seniors Centre Village and Clean Tech Commons. Groups at each table were invited to discuss in small groups the Trent Lands Plan with facilitated questions on the vision. They discussed what should be included or is missing on the campus, among other questions. These questions can be found at the Phase Two survey link at trentu.ca/trentlandsplan, along with the draft report of the Trent Lands Plan based on what was found in Phase One of consultations.
The table I was at was told that the plan is a general overview of where the buildings should go, but we couldn’t commit on site specifics as it was a plan “10,000 feet in the air.”
I did find out that Phase Three would likely refer to site specifics in March or early next semester. This was a disappointment to many at the table, but there was a consensus that natural spaces should be more protected and that the vision proposed was vague. There was a mnemonic that spelled RESPECT for the Vision and Guiding Principles. A few of the concerns raised were that there was no mention of Indigenous Nations, such as Curve Lake First Nation. There was also no mention of exceeding environmental standards.
Shannon Farmer, Vice President of the Trent University chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER-TU) said, “Students are told to be engaged, but when they are, their requests are seldom followed… This leads to distrust and less student participation in the future.”
An example is regarding the 120-metre setbacks from wetlands, specifically provincially significant wetlands that have been repeatedly requested to be protected by members of the public and students. This is in order to improve wildlife protection, such as for salamanders, and to protect societal values. Some people also spoke about recognizing what has been accomplished to date. The theme of natural protection and enhancement was mentioned at multiple tables. Another table asked what is sustainable, and is it enough? They also added that climate change should be part of the vision statement.
A few other ideas proposed included directly funding and maintaining Trent Nature Areas, bringing natural spaces closer to the University and improving access for mobility. On February 12, 2020 there will be a pop up in the Otonabee Cafeteria from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. There will also be a pop up in the Bata Library. If you have time, please fill out the survey to share your thoughts on the questions asked until February 17, 2020.
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