Green spaces in LU must be preserved

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Chris Gore

I am writing to you on behalf of the Laurentian Nordic Ski Club, our 400 members and countless community residents who use the ski slopes located on the Laurentian campus.

We understand that the school is considering the sale of land and buildings to offset its debt through the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act process.

We urge you to consider the value of these trails and associated green spaces, and their impact on university and community life.

The LNSC has established an excellent working relationship with the university for the maintenance of these trails. For more than 50 years, the Laurentian Nordic Trail network, with 12 km of trails on Laurentian University property and a small section on Conservation Sudbury land, has been an icon for the community.

This natural resource is essential to attract, integrate and retain a dynamic population in the North. In addition, the trails are an attractive element for recruiting Laurentian students. In fact, they have been the backdrop for many photographs used by the university for marketing.

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Historically, Laurentian and the LNSC shared responsibility for trail maintenance. For 10 years, the LNSC has assumed sole responsibility for the financing, maintenance and operation of the trails through an agreement with Laurentian University.

This includes winter grooming of the slopes and off-season maintenance to ensure the safety of all users in order to manage the responsibilities to the university and the ski club. The LNSC spends at least $ 30,000 per year maintaining the trails and invests over 400 volunteer hours per year to achieve this.

LNSC is an integral and well-established part of the Greater Sudbury community. Recently, an investment by the D’Aloisio family, in memory of Robert D’Aloisio, former club member and Nordic skier, enabled the lighting of a 1.5 km loop for night skiing. The LNSC worked with the university to manage the funds and the installation of lights on the university property. The donation of $ 150,000 to finance the project was to the club; however, this gift passed through Laurentian University in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration established for decades.

A portion of these funds was allocated to the ongoing maintenance of trail lights and was held in trust by Laurentian University. It is not clear whether these funds are still available for their intended use.

The property belonging to Laurentian University includes its campus but also more than 200 hectares of undeveloped land bordering Lake Nepahwin - where there is a beach - and Lake Laurentien.  Within this sprawling green space are numerous hiking, Nordic skiing and cross-country running trails.
The property belonging to Laurentian University includes its campus but also more than 200 hectares of undeveloped land bordering Lake Nepahwin – where there is a beach – and Lake Laurentien. Within this sprawling green space are numerous hiking, Nordic skiing and cross-country running trails.

Improvements to the trails have made it possible to host provincial level competitions and many high school competitions. The trails have a strong connection to the Sudbury community through the delivery of programs for youth and adults.

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The club offers programs for the youth of Nordiq Canada, promoting cross-country skiing and a healthy lifestyle through recreational and competitive opportunities. In addition, the club offers ski school and training opportunities for primary and secondary students.

Sudbury and LNSC can pride themselves on the development of many high caliber athletes, both in the Nordic and Para-Nordic categories, including Provincial, National and World Champions.

Laurentian University students have access to the LNSC trail network and ski rental. This contributes to the quality of student life on campus throughout the year. There are also university courses that use the trails as part of their curriculum.

LNSC volunteers coordinate with university staff to ensure trails are prepared and equipment is available as needed. The International Students Association and other university groups are introduced and benefit from winter and summer activities on the LNSC trail network. The ability to learn to ski on campus on professionally maintained slopes and the provision of all ski equipment is an important aspect of the agreement between the university and the LNSC.

It also contributes greatly to the quality of life of Laurentian students and staff. In fact, many would agree that the LNSC trails attract students to the magnificent Laurentian campus.

The relationship and support that LNSC provides to the Laurentian University Nordic Ski Team should also be seen as a benefit to the university and its students. The LNSC works closely with the coaching staff and the varsity team, providing funding opportunities and an annual operating donation.

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The LNSC trail network is part of the Nepahwin Lake watershed and any activity in this green space must take into account the delicate relationship between the land and its use. We all have a stewardship responsibility to support the protection of this precious natural setting.

Laurentian will face major challenges in the years to come. The natural lands surrounding the university have been an effective attraction for students, individuals and families seeking to settle in Sudbury. We firmly believe that natural lands are an integral part of what Laurentian University represents for the community and for students.

Our community is proud of our regreening efforts. We value natural space at Laurentian University. The alienation of either land would be an insult to the community and its residents.

Chris Gore is president of the Laurentian Nordic Ski Club.

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