Lady Eaton College and Forensic Science Society
ReFrame 2021
Teaching Awards by The Centre for Teaching and Learning at Trent
Arthur News School of Fish
"Abandoned CN Swing Bridge" by Sean_Marshall is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Trent Lands and Nature Areas Virtual Town Hall

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December 1, 2020
Trent Lands and Nature Areas Virtual Town Hall
"Abandoned CN Swing Bridge" by Sean_Marshall is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The Virtual Town Hall meeting, which occurred on November 19 2020, went from 4:00 to 6:00pm over Zoom. Most of the Zoom meeting was a presentation about the Trent Lands and Nature Areas Plan (TLNAP) with the second hour left open for questions. There was limited time to react to what was said in the presentation, however, several of the questions submitted in advance were addressed. Julie Davis, VP of External Relations and Advancement was the host and introduced the Trent Lands Plan. Some of the key messages Lina Al-Dajani, an Associate from SvN Architects and Planners, highlighted from the community in regards to the Trent Lands Plan included that Trent should be an example of experiential learning, teaching, environmental stewardship and that a story of the land should be told. The consultants surmised that preservation of natural spaces is a priority. Food production and the need for housing and employment on campus is also important. Linda Al-Dajani said that Phase One and Two of the Trent Lands plan was complete, and feedback on the draft plan will be received until January 4, 2021.

Consultants looked at global precedents, existing conditions and engaged with Indigenous people, campus and the local community, when Phase One and Two of the Trent Lands Plan were created. In the background section of the presentation it was identified that, at present, cycling and pedestrian safety is compromised and housing is at capacity. Upon review of the plan by the Ministry of Transportation and the City, it was revealed that Highway 115 might eventually need to be extended near the 9th line. This has implications for some campus areas such as the Experimental Farm and the Cleantech Commons. 

In terms of engagement with Indigenous groups and stakeholders, Lina Al-Dajani explained that Curve Lake First Nations, Hiawatha First Nations, the Trent Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers Council had informed the aspects of the plan grounded in Indigenous Traditional Knowledge (ITK).  She said “ITK was woven into methods of study and it informed our findings in an integrative approach with Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and values alongside Western science.”

On the topic of improving dialogue with Indigenous people, Bob Goulais, owner of Nbisiing Consulting, discussed the removal of cedar trees which are culturally significant to the local Indigenous community. Goulais said this shows Trent University needs to do a better job at understanding Michi Saagiig Anishinaabe values. During the presentation, a participant named Chris Welter wrote “… We do hope that we can have a meaningful relationship and discussion to highlight what we feel are very misleading perspectives representing the interests of the inhabitants of the water.” 

Kristen Harrison of North-South Environmental, presented a section about environmental stewardship and natural heritage noting that the Otonabee River is a key feature of the plan along with preserving 60% of the natural environment on campus.  She also pointed out that they are considering restoring the hydro corridor by planting a Cultural Meadow. The University Green Network is an expanded process meant to look at areas beyond the legal requirements for protection. The additions to the Trent Nature area were well highlighted while the deletions were not presented on equal footing. Some of the targets in the Trent Lands and Nature Areas Plan include maintaining or increasing biodiversity, increasing habitat diversity, accessible nature learning in nature and improved management of dog use, due to ecological concerns, including measurable metrics incorporating Indigenous knowledge.

From the presentation it sounded like there may be current plans to add green space in the built environment from pollinator gardens, potential pocket forests and green roofs however, it is not clear where in the written Trent Lands Plan these are discussed.  On page 18 of the Trent Lands and Nature Area Plan there is a page about interfaces with nature, indicating this is “ ...an important consideration…”.   Lina Al-Dajani talked about the plan having 5 districts including the Campus Core, East Bank Lands, Cleantech Commons, Peninsula Lands and a Seniors Village. Al-Dajani said the United Nations Development Goals are linked in the plan and a new forensics crimes scene facility building is carbon neutral. One proposal is for reclaiming Nausea Mills Road along the river which will allow greater access to nature, improve pedestrian and cyclist safety and allow safer passage for wildlife. 

Transit was discussed as well as roads that would be added and removed. Bob Goulais talked about the integration of Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and values including incorporating Indigenous art, culture and a new Indigenous teaching lodge on campus. Bob Goulais said wetlands were the number one issue in consultations and that there will be environmental collaboration with Indigenous people to ensure the health of the natural environment. The former proposed site for the Twin Pad Arena will be used as a functional space for Indigenous cultural activities and learning. Bob Goulais showed how Indigenous Traditional Knowledge is included in site plans. Lina Al-Dajani talked about agriculture and food systems and talked about roads impacting the Trent Vegetable gardens and how it won’t replace or compromise natural features through the use of farmlands. 

When asked about ecological buffers, Kristen Harrison responded “I think that [120 meters] is commonly misunderstood as being a recommended buffer put forward through provincial policy, and that is not the case.”

 “We do acknowledge and totally, fully support the idea of ecological buffers and the application of those buffers will be determined through site specific study… 120 meters isn’t a typical buffer. I think that is worth identifying… 30 meters is an often applied buffer; it’s a common practice and that is what is in the Cleantech Commons.” 

Other questions from the public were about unevaluated wetlands, funding to address invasive species and learning opportunities, qualitative analysis for feedback, leasing or selling property to the city, limits on development, the MTO corridor, the Highway 28 Nature Area, the location of a Seniors Village and what’s happening with the Trent Vegetable Garden, among other topics.  Lina Al-Dajani said more detailed studies showed areas where green spaces should be expanded and that specific site plans may require an environmental impact assessment which is required for lands within 120m of a provincially significant wetland (the Trent Lands Plan assumes provincial significance for the wetlands in question).

For more information, the video of the Virtual Town Hall meeting can be found below, as well as past meetings are available on the 2020 Trent Land and Nature Area Plan website where the Draft Trent Lands Plan can be reviewed and feedback can be given prior to January 4, 2021.

Lady Eaton College and Forensic Science Society
ReFrame 2021
Teaching Awards by The Centre for Teaching and Learning at Trent
Arthur News School of Fish
Sponsored
Lady Eaton College and Forensic Science Society
ReFrame 2021
Teaching Awards by The Centre for Teaching and Learning at Trent
Arthur News School of Fish

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