UoG exploring options for core lands
GUELPH DAILY MERCURY JANUARY 12, 2012
Guelph - The University of Guelph is examining new ways to generate revenue on some of its core academic lands, president Alastair Summerlee said in a recent interview.
Back in 1989, the university established the Heritage Trust, an endowment fund topped up with revenue from leasing lands owned by the University of Guelph. Part of the process involved identifying core and non-core land.
It is the non-core lands that have, to date, been leased, including those at the Delta Hotel site, Research Park South, and retail lands on Stone Road.
The fund is now roughly $45 million, and generates about $3 million annually in long-term leases. The money helps pay for certain investments to avoid putting additional pressure on the operating budget.
These non-core lands are now in short supply. Summerlee said there have been discussions around the idea of leasing core lands to private companies and public agencies. Such deals would have to meet an academic need, whether in teaching or research.
"We've now actually got relatively little non-core land from that original designation left," said Summerlee, explaining there is a small parcel of land next to the Delta Hotel and land allocated for Research Park North, directly behind the Zellers and Future Shop on Stone Road West.
"We are actually looking at: Are there other opportunities for partnerships in the core academic land, where we can actually work with potential partners, both public and private -- public being governments, both federal and provincial?" he said, adding that such potential partners would have linkages to UoG's academic offerings.
"We are actually trying to create facilities that we can lease, that boost our revenue, but also boost the academic mission of the institution", he explained. "If they are successful they will be in the areas in which we have great strengths -- food, health, nutrition".
The university has a construction master plan that identifies areas where it would be appropriate for new buildings to go, and where it would be inappropriate. The master plan clearly states there is to be no building on Johnston Green, although rumours sometimes circulate to the contrary, Summerlee indicated.
"At the moment we are renewing the main campus master plan", he added. The process involves envisioning what campus might look like in the next five, 10, 20 or 30 years.
"Through that, we would expect to be able to identify areas where we would want to develop, or have the capacity to develop, or there may be some compelling academic reason to develop", he added.
A priority is the redevelopment of the Ontario Veterinary hospitals, which must be planned in such a way that they are sustainable for 30 years or more.
Summerlee added there are no plans to develop a large plot of non-core land at the corner of Edinburgh Road South and College Avenue West. He indicated there is strong opposition to developing the land from those who want the neighbouring Dairy Bush preserved, and those who want to maintain bee populations.
"I think any aspect of the university should be subject to thinking why do we protect or have this space", Summerlee said. "There are some that I cannot ever imagine we would change, Johnston Green being one of them, the Arboretum being another".
The Arboretum incorporates the Guelph Centre for Urban Organic Farming.