Balancing education, research and development

The University of New Brunswick’s Heritage Lands in Fredericton have been taking on a new look in recent years.

UNB's Heritage Lands are an important teaching and research tool.

The 3,800-acre Heritage Lands - a portion of the Fredericton land grant given by King George III in 1800 - have been used to support the university’s core mission of teaching, learning and research for much of its 225-year history. These lands are part of approximately 8,000 acres of land held by UNB across the province. 

“UNB’s land holdings are a vital resource that enables our university to continue to provide education to thousands of New Brunswickers,” says UNB president Eddy Campbell.  

Over the past decade much of UNB’s development focus has been on its land holdings in the Fredericton area.  In recent years, a small portion of UNB’s Heritage Lands in Fredericton was identified for mixed-use development to generate additional revenues for the university.

“While the development of our land is important, we also recognize the need to balance potential development with the conservation of the forested area,” he says. 

Revenue opportunities are important but UNB is, first and foremost, a teaching and research institution, Campbell says. 

“That’s why approximately half of the UNB Heritage Lands in Fredericton will be protected in perpetuity.”

Creighton Conservation Forest

The portion of the UNB Heritage Lands in Fredericton that have been set aside for conservation have been named the Creighton Conservation Forest, after the late Dr. G. Wilfrid I. Creighton, a UNB alumnus.

Creighton, an internationally recognized pioneer in the development of modern forest management and conservation practices, graduated in 1929 and received a honourary doctorate in 1953.

UNB’s aim is to have the Creighton Conservation Forest become a world-class facility in teaching and research by not only UNB’s Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management , but by many other faculties at the university as well as the Maritime College of Forest Technology. 

UNB’s Office of Forest Land Management (OFLM) will manage that Creighton Conservation Forest along with the university’s other woodland holdings. The Creighton Conservation Forest Advisory Committee, established by UNB’s Board of Governors, will provide advice to the OFLM on teaching and research programs within the forest. 

The board also established a $100,000 student environmental research fund for projects within the forest. 

A good neighbour

“When it comes to the development of our land, UNB has a simple philosophy,” says Campbell. “We want to be good neighbours.”

Being a good neighbour means balancing UNB’s benefits with benefits to the community, both in the near-term and long-term. 

Campbell says that the development of UNB lands over the years has benefited both the university community as well as the broader public. Most all the downtown area of what is now the City of Fredericton were once UNB lands, he adds. 

UNB has also played an important role growing Fredericton’s information technology (IT) sector. 

Through partnerships with all levels of government, Enterprise Fredericton, and private investors, UNB provided 26 acres of land for the Fredericton Knowledge Park, which helped develop the capital city’s IT industry by providing much- needed affordable commercial space near the university to support incubation firms.Through partnerships with all levels of government, Enterprise Fredericton, and private investors, UNB provided 26 acres of land for the Fredericton Knowledge Park, which helped develop the capital city’s IT industry by providing much- needed affordable commercial space near the university to support incubation firms. 

“Intellectual infrastructure is vital to support the future growth of our knowledge-based economy,” said Mayor Brad Woodside. “The City of Fredericton has been a strong proponent of this initiative, along with UNB, the Province of New Brunswick, and Enterprise Fredericton.”

UNB continues to play an important role in Fredericton’s development, says Campbell.

Currently a mixed-use area of approximately 270 acres is under development intended to help support recreational, retail and economic priorities in the Fredericton area. The development is being applauded by the City of Fredericton as it provides retail opportunities for local vendors and enable residents of the area to buy in their own community. 

In 2008, Trinity Developments, was awarded the City of Fredericton Commercial Development Award for its retail development on land leased from UNB that is known as the Corbett Centre. UNB played a significant role in setting high design standards for the Corbett Centre project. 

Benefiting the community

In addition to benefiting Fredericton through job growth and increased development opportunities, UNB lands are also helping improve recreation and wellness in the capital thanks to UNB providing the city with land for the development of the Grant Harvey Centre

The centre, a $30-million, 45-acre multi-use facility, will feature both an Olympic-size and NHL-size ice surface. It will also boast an artificial soccer / football field, tennis courts as well as a dog-walking park.

“Fredericton City Council has made numerous investments in recreation infrastructure in our city over the past few years,” said Mayor Woodside.  “We are pleased with the location for the Grant Harvey Centre and our partnership with UNB to locate it there. 

This will create a regional recreational hub that will serve as a further catalyst for retail, commercial and residential development.”

The Grant Harvey Centre will help Fredericton thrive, says Susan Holt, Chief Executive Officer of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce.

“Recreational community infrastructure such as the Grant Harvey Centre helps make our city an attractive place for people to live,” says Holt.

“This in turn helps make our community more attractive to the skilled workforce our employers need.”

Contributed by David Shipley, UNB Communications & Marketing.