Thursday May 24th, 2007
Fredericton is a beautiful little city.
It is a Canadian treasure. It is clean, safe, just the right size and has all the facilities one really needs. It has plenty of green space, a very attractive river setting and sufficient entertainment, eating and shopping opportunities. And, with two universities, excellent education opportunities.
I served in the Canadian Armed Forces and had good fortune to have lived in, or visited, most parts of this country.
I believe I can say with confidence that Fredericton is one of the best places anywhere in which to live and bring up a family.
One of the advantages of living in Fredericton is access to the woodlot owned by the University of New Brunswick.
This tract of relatively unspoiled nature, with its trails and ponds, is home to countless varieties of wildlife. It offers pleasure to hundreds of Fredericton residents and visitors who can enjoy pleasant walks just minutes from downtown.
It is the intention of the university to develop a large parcel of this land along the Vanier Highway – land that is the most accessible to the public, and which provides a valuable buffer from the noise of traffic.
Following my career in the military, I was a manager in the Department of Physical Plant at UNB, and therefore played a part in the budget process of the university. I understand some of the fiscal difficulties faced by the institution, especially those forced on it by its aging infrastructure.
I am aware that tens of millions of dollars are required to retain and improve facilities so that the university can compete for tuition and research funding, as well as provide a quality academic environment.
However, I believe it must find more creative means of acquiring money than leasing away part of its heritage. A responsibility also rests with the province to adequately support its institutions of higher education.
As I understand it, these woodlands were granted to UNB for forest research or other academic pursuits. I doubt if it was the intention of the grantors that these lands be used for commercial development such as shopping centres, box stores, apartment blocks, condominiums and parking lots.
This woodlot belongs to UNB, a public institution, but it also belongs to the people of the city of Fredericton, and the province. It is a resource too valuable to be squandered by turning, even part of it, to commercial use.
Let us not sell our birthright for a mess of potage.
Murray McEachen, Fredericton
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