The majority of the discussion at Peterborough City Hall on Tuesday night centred on plans to build a new twin-pad arena and pool at Trent University, which was met with backlash and contempt because the proposed development site is home to a wetland.
“I think that is one of the critical issues wrong with the city today,” said Trent University PhD candidate Debbie Jenkins. “Often things are designed without an environmental study completed.”
Jenkins and a long line of environmentalists and Trent students argued that the location at the southeast corner of Pioneer Road is the wrong spot, suggesting the facility and adjacent parking lot would destroy habitat for several species of animals that call the wetlands home.
“It’s a biological hot spot in our community,” said Jenkins. “It supports over 800 wildlife species that we know of and we’re still counting and 21 of those species are at risk.”
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“I don’t understand how an area that is considered significant wildlife habitat it still being brought forward for development,” said Courtney Irving, a masters student at Trent.
The city conducted a needs assessment for the arena two years ago and determined, that when the aging Northcrest Arena closes, the city would need another four rinks to make up for the demand for ice time.
The new twin-pad arena will occupy 22 acres of land and have seating for 975 people with the pool offering 300 seats. The project is expected to cost close to $54 million to complete.
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Those against the development urged council to do more and secure further studies of the wetlands, even suggesting the location may qualify under provincial standards as a significant wetland which would give the site a level of protection against development.
City staff interjected and said several detailed studies had been done while insisting they followed proper protocol the entire way.
“We have worked very closely with ORCA (Otonabee Region Conservation Authority) since this property was first offered and we will certainly continue to do so and if there are any new developments moving forward we will certainly apprise council,” said Ken Doherty, director of community services with the City of Peterborough.
Trent University VP Julie Davis says the location was selected as part of the university’s master plan and was examined by ORCA, while assuring more than 60 per cent of Trent’s land is protected as green space and will remain as such.
In the end, council voted 9-2 to approve the site plan, as only councillors Diane Therrien and Keith Riel were against the location.
Construction is slated to begin in 2019.