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The Soapbox: Laurentian’s greenspace must be protected

‘The community is intent on protecting this area now and for future generations’

For me, the Laurentian University greenspace is not just a place to forage. 

Throughout the pandemic, our five-year old son has walked the land daily with either his father or myself. He has learned about beavers, painted turtles, alder cones and catkins, wintergreen, broadwinged hawks, pileated woodpeckers, sandhill cranes, spring peepers, smooth green and northern redbelly snakes. 

He has seen them and felt more alive in their presence. He has learned many of their names. This watershed is our place of belonging, and the belonging of many diverse and migratory species. 

The LU greenspace protects the health of five lakes, including Ramsey Lake (our source of drinking water). Within that, the Bennett Lake watershed maintains the health of Nepahwin Lake, as the ecosystem has recovered biodiversity due to regreening efforts. 

Filtered through lake edges of indigenous and remedial plants, as well as wetlands and stream systems, fresh water enters into the salty, phosphorus-ridden Lake Nepahwin. 

However, due to Laurentian University’s insolvency situation, the LU greenspace may be sold off to developers, hastening the demise of the health of Lakes Nepahwin and Ramsey. Water Area, named for the American Sign Language symbols that will be found in my upcoming GNO installation, will create the meaning for “lake”, as an homage to this critical and beloved greenspace.

The community is intent on protecting this area now and for future generations. With their advocacy, my hope is that the City will not allow development to occur on these lands (no matter the result of the insolvency process). The fundraiser, Save Laurentian University's Greenspace and Trails, is focussed on these efforts. If you follow the link, you will find one of my limited edition prints featuring the remedial plant Solidago, along with handcrafted, Sudbury Solidago ink. 

Moreover, if you hold the LU greenspace in your heart, I hope you will consider raising your voice so that it can always be a community asset for all biodiverse inhabitants, and given the chance to continue to create resilience for us now and into the future. 

Elyse Portal is a Sudbury-based ecoartist, supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and Ontario Arts Council. Her work will be featured in several upcoming events in the city, including: Is this real life | Est-ce la vraie vie, at the Sudbury Art Gallery, Pat the Dog PlaySmelter residency, and the group exhibition, Contre Vents et Marées / Against All Odds, curated by Laura Demers, at the GNO (June, 2022).