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Student gardeners and volunteers at the Trent Vegetable Gardens. Photo courtesy of Trent Vegetable Gardens.

TLNAP Update: No plans to build over TVG, says Julie Davis

Written by
Varun Biddanda
and
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February 14, 2022
TLNAP Update: No plans to build over TVG, says Julie Davis
Student gardeners and volunteers at the Trent Vegetable Gardens. Photo courtesy of Trent Vegetable Gardens.

Amidst calls to divestment from the student community and an aggressive push to eliminate online learning options, Trent soldiers on with the Trent Lands and Nature Areas Plan (TLNAP).

The TLNAP, which can be accessed online here, aims to revolutionize several spaces in the Trent Symons Campus, as well as maintain existing green spaces within the campus. One of the most major changes being brought forth by the TLNAP is the Cleantech Commons, a new facility dedicated to the research and development of green technologies, set to be situated behind the DNA building.

Despite its purportedly environmentally-friendly approach, some say that the TLNAP is not as green as it seems. Since its approval by the Trent Board of Governors in 2021, many Trent students have criticized the TNLAP for various reasons. A majority of these concerns stem from the proposed development fragmenting Trent’s green areas, resulting in lowered habitat quality for the wildlife situated there. 

The TLNAP has also been protested by members and supporters of the Trent Vegetable Gardens (TVG), as an early version of the Cleantech Commons project included an access road bisecting the plots maintained by the TVG behind the DNA building. This development would also limit access to the Trent Apiary. Established in 2006, the TVG supplies organic produce to the Seasoned Spoon café, employs several students for its maintenance, and acts as a space for students and volunteers to engage and connect with the Trent lands.

In order to get an idea of what to expect from the TLNAP in the coming year, and how development might affect student life, we reached out to Julie Davis, vice president of External Relations and Development, who is currently in charge of the implementation of the TLNAP.

A key update Davis shared with us is that the plans for the Cleantech access road have changed. She wrote, “There are no plans for a road through the Trent Vegetable Garden (TVG) in the near future. Should the Ministry of Transportation Provincial Highway Reserve remain in place along 9th Line, an access road will be needed to connect Cleantech Commons to the East Bank at some point in the medium- to long term. Although early engineering sketches suggested that this access road would impact the TVG, every effort will be made to avoid this.” Davis stated that the TLNAP “recognizes the importance of the Trent Vegetable Garden,” and hopes to work towards developing it further. “Members of the TLNAP Planning team were pleased to take part in a tour of the TVG during the summer and learn about their vision for the future. Over the next year, we’ll be working with the TVG team to explore further expansion of the garden in conjunction with renewal of the lease between Trent University and the Seasoned Spoon.”

This marks the first time that anyone from the Lands Plan team has definitively stated the fate of the TVG in the advent of the TLNAP. Most communications from the Lands Plan team since its approval have not addressed whether or not the vegetable gardens behind the DNA building would be affected. For instance, in the Trent Board of Governors meeting last year, lead consultant Lina Al Dajani stated that the ultimate location of the TVG warranted more engagement, despite the student consensus that the TVG should remain unaffected by developments.

We reached out to Emma Macdonald, the Head Coordinator of the TVG, for a response on the news that the Cleantech Access Road would not be built atop the vegetable gardens behind the DNA building. She had the following to say:

“The TVG does not consider this a win and is still contending with development in and around our garden location. Julie's statement does suggest there are no explicit plans for a road through the garden, although cannot guarantee that one will not be built if it's considered necessary. In addition to this road meant to service the Cleantech Commons development, Trent has tentative plans to relocate their facilities department directly north of our garden. This construction would displace a portion of our active growing space and see our well decommissioned. This construction would cut off access to the student-run Apiary Club north of that location as well.

We will continue advocating for the Vegetable Gardens to remain in its current location with as minimal disturbance as possible.”

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