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Peterborough Examiner (ON)
Thu 13 Nov 2008 

After lying dormant for more than two months, a banner ad city bus campaign is igniting the fires of the TrentUniversity private residence debate.

“Don’t let Trent sell out our campus to commercial interests,” read the ads.

The campaign is the work of the No Private Residence at Trent Coalition, an organization made up of students, university staff, community members and groups opposed to the proposed private residence.

Officials with the No Private Residence at Trent Coalition declined to speak to The Examiner yesterday.

But the ads are paid for by the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

“The local (CUPE Local 3908) is taking the lead and we are supporting them,” said Candace Rennick, CUPE Local 2280 president and second vice-president of CUPE Ontario.

“Our national union approved at our most recent convention a multimillion dollar anti-privatization campaign and this initiative fits in nicely.

That’s how the ads are being paid.

“It’s an identified priority for the union and the union has committed resources into resisting locally wherever we can.”

But she said yesterday she was not in a position to release the cost of the ad campaign.

Local 3908 represents more than 500 contract faculty and student academic workers at Trent.

The campaign’s purpose is to raise awareness, she said.

“Ultimately it’s to try and put forward alternatives to the option Trent is considering,” Rennick said.

“The goal is to sit down and try and work through it.”

Trent‘s private residence proposal includes a 99-year lease for a 500-bed complex on university-owned land at

Water Street


Nassau Mills Road

in the city’s north end.

Trent and Residence Development Corp. — the proposed developer and operator of the facility and operator of similar complexes at some other Ontario universities — are currently working through the site plan process with the city, said Don O’Leary, Trent‘s vice-president of administration.

The process will take some time while the city gathers input and Trent finalizes the site plans, he said.

“Certainly in December or January there will be a more public process that the city will initiate around the whole site plan,” O’Leary estimated.

The University Heights Neighbourhood Association joined forces with Trent students when the plans were formally made public this summer.

The neighbours association is supporting the No Private Residence at Trent Coalition, said member Gary Harris, a

Champlain Drive


“We both have resistance to the plans Trent has … for different reasons but a common goal,” Harris said.

The neighbourhood group had no part in funding the ad campaign, he said.

“There was a conversation about it. But we hired a municipal planner for the committee of adjustment meeting (June 17),” Harris said.

“We spent quite a bit of money to have a professional represent us.”

Money hasn’t traded hands but mutual support is strong, he said.

It’s important to keep attention on the issue, said Dawson Bick, a member of the neighbourhood association.

“(Trent) is trying to slip this in,” Beck said.

“If their application is defeated, Trent will take it to the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board). And if it is accepted, the (neighbourhood) association and student groups will go to the OMB. Either way this will be fought at the OMB.”

The private residence proposal was “front and centre” in the public earlier this year, O’Leary said, adding the ad campaign comes as no surprise.

“There was opposition to it and this (ad campaign) is consistent with the opinions those opposition groups expressed at the time,” O’Leary said.

“We would like to talk with students, residents or anyone else about the project and try to explain and see if there is an opportunity to reach a consensus on it.”

The campaign, he said, goes well beyond the proposed residence.

“It’s against commercialization of university operations in any way. That’s a philosophy, and quite different than what this project is really all about,” O’Leary said, explaining it is attacking Trent‘s master plan, which was approved by Trent‘s board of governors in 2005.

That plan began with the 99-year lease of a 25-acre property to Trent Rapids Power Corp. for the construction of a canal and hydroelectric generating station.

Other private ventures include the lease or sale of three parcels of land on

Woodland Drive

for private residential and commercial development. Proposals are expected for the 54.9 acres late this year.

In a March referendum, more than “75 per cent of students voted against a non-college, private residence on Trent-owned land,” said Meaghan Kelly, vice-president of student issues for the Trent Central Student Association.

“The students were uncomfortable with a residence that was not owned by the university.”

Word of a public process around the proposed residence was good news as long as it isn’t held during exams or Christmas holiday, Kelly said.

“I would like to see an actual public consultation,” she said, stating the first public session on July 4 was “just a Trent and (Residence Development Corp.) information session and not what was promised.”

“I would like to see a more open process and (Trent) be more open with their intentions,” Kelly said. “It’s been very unclear so far where it’s at with the private residence.”