The UNB Woodlot development was promoted as an environmentally progressive and sustainable project, which should have been a state-of-the-art showcase for the university and a source of pride for students, staff, alumni and the greater Fredericton community.
Former President John McLaughlin proudly announced in a News Release on Oct. 4, 2004: “First and foremost we will seek to conserve and preserve UNB’s ecologically, educationally and environmentally valuable land holdings.”
Unfortunately this is not what is happening. Phase 1 development is unfolding in a destructive and disappointing fashion, and contrary to the vision of current President Eddy Campbell, does not demonstrate adherence to the “best of current practices anywhere in the world”
But…what was promised?
The UNB Board of Governors, Faculty, Alumni, and the general public were guaranteed 80m buffers for “Ecologically Sensitive areas”. For example, on October 04, 2004, UNB President John McLaughlin held the UNB Open House on the Woodlot Implementation Plan. A professionally-produced document was presented as ‘Display Panel 3’ (from the Internet Archive, page 1 and page 2) which explicitly detailed the 80m buffer guarantee for Ecologically Sensitive areas including … “Regent Bog, Larch Swale, Corbett Brook Marsh, Corbett Brook Caves, and various areas of known rare or uncommon plants and animals”.
The 80 m buffer consists of:
“1. Baseline Buffer located 30m from watercourses and wetlands as required by provincial legislation.
2. 30m wide Conservation Buffer, that will allow for the protection of ecologically sensitive areas.
3. 20m wide Limited Access Area to provide opportunities for ‘low impact’ public uses.”
This conservation strategy was used as a key argument, back in 2004, in order to win the approval of the UNB Board of Governors for the Woodlot Implementation Plan. Prior to their vote on the Plan, the UNB Board of Governors were told that the 80metre buffers would allow the following: (1) create wildlife corridors between the larger conservation areas; and (2) raise the total area of conservation lands to 50% of the Woodlot.
Furthermore, UNB’s environmental consultant Jacques Whitford (now Stantec) confirmed this fact March 12, 2009: “Please note that UNB committed to 80m buffers for wetlands and watercourses for its Conservation Lands…” but added …” with the exception of this first retail space [the Corbett Centre] where a 30-m buffer was applied.”
Why and how was this ‘exception’ made? Why don’t we see 80-metre buffers applied to the current Costco development?
We outlined our concerns in a letter to President Campbell and although we received a reply dated April 06, 2011, it did not address any of the specific issues raised.
Again we ask, what happened to the guaranteed 80m buffers for Ecologically Sensitive areas like Corbett Brook Marsh and Larch Swale? Was the Board of Governors involved in this ‘exception’ to the initial guarantee? The public deserves an explanation.
Perhaps the following documents could shed light on what happened, and therefore, we request their release:
1. Meeting minutes of the UNB Board of Governors pertaining to all decisions for the approval of the Woodlot Implementation Plan;
2. Recommendations submitted by the UNB Properties Committee, especially alterations, regarding the Woodlot Implementation Plan;
3. Minutes of the UNB Board of Governors meeting discussing the exception for Corbett Brook Marsh and Larch Swale;
4. Comprehensive Study preceding the Woodlot Implementation Plan, entitled “Valued Environmental Component Identification Study, University of New Brunswick Woodlot” (Jacques Whitford, 2002);
5. Woodlot Implementation Plan;
6. Water quality testing results as outlined in the Terms and Conditions of the EIA Approval for Corbett Place (Feb. 28, 2007), and additional monitoring requirements (April 14, 2009), of the NB Department of Environment;
7. Compliance with Sections 35 and 37 of the Fisheries Act (Canada) to protect the brook trout in Corbett Brook Marsh and Corbett Brook;
8. Surveys of rare and endangered plants and animals in the UNB Woodlot;
9. UNB’s annual balance sheet from the UNB Woodlot, now that it pays taxation as a property developer, including gross annual revenue, projected revenue, annual income tax bill, annual property tax bill, and the annual cost for the construction of retention ponds and stormwater pipes; and
10. Policies of the UNB Board of Governors.
Dr. Campbell states he is “committed to gradual, thoughtful and responsible management of these lands”. For this statement to hold any credibility he should insist on transparency and accountability for UNB as a public institution.
Dr. Caroline Lubbe-D’Arcy
Dr. Monika Stelzl
on behalf of
The Friends of the UNB Woodlot
Fredericton, New Brunswick