Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

January 25, 2004

New Arboretum master plan topic of information session

The University of Guelph is holding an information session Jan. 29 to outline the development of a master plan update for the Arboretum.

The one-hour session begins at noon in the Crop Science Building, Room 116. Everyone is invited. The meeting is intended to inform the community of the process, provide opportunities for input and obtain feedback on key issues. It is the first in a series of consultative public meetings that will be held.

U of G’s Arboretum is the largest and most comprehensive in Ontario, and is home to more than 18,000 plant collections, gardens, wetlands, nature trails and forests.

“It has been 18 years since the master plan for the Arboretum was last updated,” said Robin-Lee Norris, a member of the University's Board of Governors who is chairing the Arboretum Master Plan Committee. "The needs, challenges and requirements for the Arboretum have changed significantly over that period, and now that the University has a new campus master plan, it is appropriate that we review the Arboretum master plan as well."

The process of developing the new master plan will be a consultative one, including public and stakeholder meetings and input, Norris said. There will also be an assessment of the Arboretum by a study team that will examine areas such as teaching, research, programs, infrastructure and public service.

Over the next few months, the committee will review scenarios and key issues that arise from the assessment, public meetings and stakeholder meetings. A draft plan will be developed first, which will be widely circulated and presented to the public for comment. The final plan will incorporate feedback from this process and include both a new vision for the Arboretum and a new physical and financial plan.

“I am thrilled,” said Prof. Alan Watson, Arboretum director. “The update will allow us to move forward with an enhanced vision, both from an ecological and societal perspective.”

The first Arboretum master plan was completed in 1970 when the Board of Governors approved dedicating 330 acres of campus property for a “living laboratory” for research and teaching. At the time, it consisted mostly of fields used as test plots for the Ontario Agricultural College. That master plan was updated in 1986.

Today, in addition to featuring plants in publicly accessible collections and formal gardens, the Arboretum supports research activity such as the Ontario Tree Atlas Project and the Elm Recovery Project, and sponsors public workshops and educational programs. It also hosts more than 73,000 visitors annually, and some 8,000 people participate in organized workshops, guided tours, dinner theatre and special events each year.

“The Arboretum has played a very important role in the University and city for 30 years,” said OAC Dean Craig Pearson. “It is a ‘classroom’ for the entire community. Whether it is students or faculty conducting research, a member of the public taking a nature walk or children learning about maple syrup collection, it is a place for people to expand their knowledge of natural resources and wildlife.”

For more information on the Arboretum Master Plan, or to submit comments and suggestions, call Jim Taylor at (519) 824-4120, Ext. 58719, send e-mail to or fax to (519) 763-9698.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338 or Rachelle Cooper, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.

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