Local Liberal, Green and NDP candidates in the June 2 provincial election have banded together with a pledge to save the Laurentian University greenspace.
The #saveLUgreenspace pledge states: “If elected, I pledge to actively support the protection of the LU greenspace in its natural state, as a freely accessible community greenspace.”
NDP candidates Jamie West (Sudbury) and France Gélinas (Nickel Belt), Liberal candidates David Farrow (Sudbury) and Gilles Proulx (Nickel Belt), and Green candidates David Robinson (Sudbury) and Glenys Babcock (Nickel Belt) signed the pledge.
Notably absent from the pledge are Progressive Conservative candidates Randy Hazlett (Nickel Belt) and Marc Despatie (Sudbury). Sudbury.com reached out to both political camps for insight as to why their names are absent but have yet to receive a response.
Invitations to sign the pledge were sent to candidates from the four main parties, along with an invitation to attend a community walk in the LU greenspace on May 7, according to a media release issued by Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury, which has been co-ordinating #saveLUgreenspace.
West, Gélinas, Farrow, Robinson, Mayor Brian Bigger and approximately 48 community members came out to show their support for the LU greenspace and trails during the morning walk around Bennett Lake, which was led by professor Peter Beckett and Conservation Sudbury volunteer Sheilah Arena. Proulx was unable to attend the walk, but met at the greenspace earlier that week.
Neither Hazlett nor Despatie took part in the walk, but Despatie’s team sent regrets for missing the event due to a scheduling conflict.
“We did not receive any explanation for why he did not sign the pledge, and, to date, he has not taken us up on our invitation to meet to talk about the LU greenspace,” Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury chair Naomi Grant told Sudbury.com by emailed correspondence. “We did not receive any reply from Randy Hazlett.”
In the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury media release it’s noted that the Laurentian University greenspace is where Greater Sudbury residents “hike, swim, ski, learn and connect to nature and family throughout the year.”
Laurentian University is currently drafting a Plan of Arrangement for creditors under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act process, which could put the LU greenspace at risk of being sold for private development.
“The LU greenspace and trails are important to all of us,” Grant said in the release. “This is not a partisan issue, and that is reflected by the strong support of so many candidates, which we very much appreciate. Our MPPs must continue to champion the protection of the LU greenspace and trails on behalf of the community.”