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Archive for May, 2007

Flying Squirrel on the UNB Woodlot

Flying Squirrel launches Smart Growth Campaign at the 2007 UNB Spring Convocation. Photo: Charles LeBlanc.

Talking to family members of the Class of ‘07

Talking to family members of UNB Grads. Photo: Charles LeBlanc.

Convocation Action

Flying Squirrel passing out flyers for the UNB Woodlot. Photo: Charles LeBlanc.

Convocation Action 2

Photo: Charles LeBlanc.

Flying Squirrel on the evening news

Flying Squirrel on the evening news. Photo: Charles LeBlanc.

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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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Smart Growth Campaign

For immediate publication

May 17, 2007

FREDERICTON, NB — “I promise to donate $$ to UNB if they follow their own stated guidelines in the development of the UNB Woodlot.”

On their own website – http://www.unb.ca/lms/woodlot/wprinciples.html – UNB’s “Guiding Principles” for the Woodlot Development, include “sustainable mixed-use development”, “demonstrate UNB’s commitment to excellence in development and management”, and “increase UNB’s profile as an environmental steward and community leader”

smartgrowthUNB.ca is a website launched to accept pledges of money from UNB alumni, students, and other supporters. (Please don’t send us any money!) You can choose to remain anonymous or to have your name added to our list of pledgers and your graduation year from UNB. Use the contact e-mail below to send your pledge amount in:

smartgrowthUNB@gmail.com

This pledge drive will be under the supervision of the non-profit organization Friends of the UNB Woodlot Inc. which will file for incorporation. Directors of the organization will include a broad range of stakeholders such as UNB alumni, UNB professors, UNB students, the Fredericton chapter of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, and supporters in the community at large.

BACKGROUND

UNB was the first public university in North America, enacted by public statute. Under the UNB Higher Education Act, s. 6 (1), UNB may invest money into any property as long as they do so exercising good judgment, and care that a person of prudence, discretion and intelligence would exercise as a TRUSTEE of the property of others.

In 1800, King George III granted the UNB Woodlot to the College of New Brunswick. This area is legally a Wildlife Refuge and is 10 times the size of Odell Park in Fredericton and 4 times the size of Stanley Park in Vancouver. It is one of the oldest managed woodlots in North America, used by faculty researchers, students, and the community alike.

How can it be in the best interest of UNB students and alumni to have university land given away to the development of big box retail stores? And how can you have comprehensive land use planning if “there is no plan in place” for the mixed development area?

Our message to the UNB administration and Board of Governors is simple. We request that a moratorium be placed on the construction of all roads (e.g. a 45-metre right of way, 4-lane Knowledge Park Drive extension) until such time as the mixed-use development plan and related public consultation are complete.

The development of the UNB Woodlot is a public issue. The trustees of UNB have to put the best interests of students and the UNB community above their own in deciding how to develop this land.

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For more information, contact:

Mark D’Arcy, UNB Alumni (BSc ’86) and Friends of the UNB Woodlot, 506-454-5119 Charles Fournier, UNB Alumni (BA ’05) and Friends of the UNB Woodlot, 506-471-306

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