Trent University is under fire from students and area residents after the school proposed the construction of a new residence for students near its Peterborough campus.
The residence will be privately built and administered on school land near Nassau Mills Road and Water Street — down the street from most of Trent’s classrooms. The land will be leased for 99 years to Residence Development Corp., which would find a developer to build the facility.
Students complain that there was a lack of public consultation, and residents fear that several hundred new students living in the area will bring unruly behaviour with them.
For its part, the school has denied that the residence is a misguided venture. Vice-president administration Don O’Leary said that the project will free up other land on campus for educational infrastructure, and is a good deal for the university and the developer. O’Leary said that neither students nor residents proposed any alternatives to the project.
“They’re really only interested in stopping the project,” O’Leary said, adding that the school was wary of going back to the drawing board. “To look at alternatives would take a substantial commitment by someone, for sure.”
Last Thursday, a public-consultation session featured a showdown between students, residents, and administrators. An article in the Peterborough Examiner called the loose coalition of groups opposed to the residence “a spirited mob” who “chewed out” the school for not including the community in its planning process.
Meaghan Kelly, the vice-president student issues of the Trent Central Students Association, told the meeting that 75 per cent of Trent students voted against private residences in an referendum last spring. Over 1,200 students voted. Kelly said that the residence was actually too close to campus.
“Location is an issue. It’s not downtown, which further disconnects students from the Peterborough community,” she told the Examiner. O’Leary said that the project is scheduled to go to the City of Peterborough’s committee of adjustment on July 15. That committee will look at the submissions of the university, students, and residents. He hopes construction of the building will be underway in September.
Kelly hopes that the students and community members can convince the committee otherwise.