I am alarmed to see that Laurentian University has put out a request for quotations for a real estate review to look at “monetization strategies for the land and buildings” on the LU campus. The Laurentian University Trails are a community resource, accessed for generations of Sudburians to get out and enjoy nature.
We go there for running, hiking, skiing, and cycling in a natural setting. Children learn how to ride their bikes on that land. Students at all levels and in all seasons train and sometimes even compete on those trails. Families enjoy nature together on those trails. People walk their dogs on those trails every day, engage with nature, view aquatic life on the three lakes surrounding the trails, go birdwatching, and enjoy the trees and plant life on those trails.
In short, these trails are a crucial greenspace where our community goes for physical exercise and for our mental and spiritual well-being.
These are the only nature trails available to our community members by public transit. One third of our community members do not have a car so this is no small issue. These trails also intersect with Lake Laurentian Nature trails and Canada’s Great Trail. Many of these intersecting trail sections used were funded by public money and built by volunteer labour from our community members. This green space and these trails are at the heart of our community, and we are deeply invested in them. They’ve been regularly improved and maintained by community volunteers and donors.
In short, these trails are inextricably tied up with who and what we are as Sudburians.
They are not trails that can be “monetized” to solve the institution’s financial woes.