Lakehead University presents draft sustainability plan to students

The proposals range from increasing plant-based and local food offerings on campus to protecting endangered and vulnerable species on the university grounds.

The proposals range from increasing plant-based food offerings to protecting endangered species on campus

Faculty and staff at Lakehead University presented the school's draft sustainability action plan to students at The Study coffee house on Tuesday. (Heather Kitching/CBC)

Lakehead University says it's on the path to becoming greener.

On Tuesday, faculty and staff presented a draft of the school's first ever Sustainability Action Plan to students at The Study coffee house.

The proposals ranged from increasing plant-based and local food offerings on campus to protecting endangered and vulnerable species on the university grounds.

"We've got the McIntyre River that runs through our campus that is a significant natural resource that we have," said Hugh Briggs, the university's director of the physical plant and a member of the school's working group on sustainability. 

"So we need to know what the issues are so we can then properly manage and make sure the development doesn't impede on those type of things."
Hugh Briggs is the director of the physical plant at Lakehead University. He said the school's new Centre for Advanced Studies in Engineering and Sciences is already being built using the low impact development practices called for in the draft sustainability plan. (Heather Kitching/CBC)

The plan also calls for using modern development practices to reduce stormwater runoff in new construction and major renovations; Briggs noted that is already taking place with the construction of the school's new Centre for Advanced Studies in Engineering and Sciences.

In addition, the plan lists a series of steps designed to increases the school's academic offerings on sustainability-related topics and encourage and promote research on sustainability by students and faculty. 

"They have a much more coherent plan than I actually thought they did," said student Christian LeBlanc, who watched the presentation. "I didn't realize there was so much that they were planning to do on campus, and I really look forward to seeing how this works out and what they do afterwards."

However, LeBlanc expressed disappointment to the presenters about the lack of discussion of solar panels in the document, while education professor Paul Berger quizzed them over an apparent lack of commitment to divesting the university's endowment fund from fossil fuel companies. 

Berger's concern was echoed in some online feedback, sustainability coordinator Ledah McKellar told the audience.
Lakehead University student Christian LeBlanc told CBC News the school's draft Sustainability Action Plan is much more comprehensive than he'd anticipated. (Heather Kitching/CBC)

"I think it's something we'll take back to our committees and readdress because we are seeing comments that our community feels it's important," she said.

The school is working on the solar issue, McKellar told CBC News.

Lakehead will continue to collect feedback on the plan from students through additional consultations and an online forum, McKellar said.

It will then work to finalize the document by the late spring or summer, she added.

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