Green space in the Laurentians: by the community, for the community

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Naomi Grant and Sharon Roy

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“The citizens of Sudbury’s gift to Laurentian University will be a campus of approximately 500 acres. This is a quote from a January 19, 1961 Sudbury Star article. The board at the time enthusiastically provided Laurentian University with the money to acquire the land for the new university, with a grant of $450,000 over five years. In 1964, Laurentian University and the federated colleges (Thorneloe University, University of Sudbury and Huntington University) opened on the new campus.

Our community, across the city, provided the money for the campus we all know today. We bought this land for the benefit of all of us. As a public institution, the university was established for the public good and the land purchased with community money was entrusted to LU for the public good. LU has the fiduciary responsibility that the land remains in the public domain, for the benefit of the community.

As a community, we feel we own the LU green space. We feel this because we are there all the time. It is part of our daily life. It’s where we spend our days and where we take visitors to show them the best of Sudbury. We have invested our volunteer time and our private donations and public funds in trail maintenance, community events and re-greening. From the very beginning, LU Greenspace has been by the community, for the community.

The LU green space is inseparable from the community. It’s not just the trails that are there because of the community effort, but the very trees that make it a green space. Community volunteers of all ages limed and revegetated this area to make it the beautiful and healthy natural space it is today.

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This space is part of the “ribbon of life” that protects our lakes. Kids from all walks of life swimming at Nepahwin Beach, affluent homeowners with lakeside homes, and Island Swimmers: all rely on LU Green Space for their enjoyment of the already tottering Lake Nepahwin on the brink of phosphorus levels that threaten to turn a beautiful lake into a soup of algae. Lake Ramsey also depends on this green space for its health.

The loss of LU green space is not just the loss of over 570 acres of green space and trails. It is also the loss of public beaches, wildlife habitats and a source of municipal drinking water, the replacement of which would cost us all more than $300 million.

As the implementation of the LU Lands Real Estate Review approaches under the CCAA process, its recommendations still unknown, we feel in our bones the injustice that our love, our efforts and our gifts could be lost to us. – through a process in which we were given no formal part or say. We feel the injustice that our community could become less good, less healthy and less equitable. We feel the madness that this decision can be made without any weight given to the value this land has for the animals and plants that live there; to the water where we swim, sail and draw our drinking water; to the protection it offers against heat and flooding in a growing climate emergency.

We can question the very premise that land and nature must be bought and sold. We can remember that the earth does not really belong to us or anyone else. We may remember that we are on Anishinabe territory on Robinson-Huron treaty lands and wonder what it would mean for that treaty to be honored by all.

Through the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act process, we have seen the unthinkable happen in our community. Much harm has been done and much has been lost. But we don’t want to lose the LU green space. We raise our voices. LU Greenspace has always been, and always will be, by the community for the community.

Naomi Grant and Sharon Roy are members of the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury.