PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – Ontario’s largest union representing university workers is urging the City of Peterborough to reject a bid by Trent University to give a private developer a 99-year lease on university lands to build a private residence. Sid Ryan, Ontario President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) says the move, which would net the University a paltry $2 million plus some revenues in return for the lease, is tantamount to a sell-off of public space.
“By leasing this land for 99 years, this move is effectively selling off university lands that were bought and paid for by public tax dollars so that a commercial operator can reap profits from students” said Ryan. “With this deal, Trent University is effectively implementing a business model where the private operator’s profits are going to come at the expense of public and community services.”
The project will be a three to four-story building with an apartment building, townhouses and commercial space on the ground floor. According to the union, there will be no Trent staff on site, no Trent services, maintenance, security, residence or college programming of any kind. Trent will not be the landlord, nor will Trent’s Housing Office place students there.
“We stand with Trent students to object to the privatization of our school, the location and the move away from the long-time tradition of the collegiate system at Trent,” added Karen Sutherland, President of CUPE 3908 representing university workers at Trent. “The private operator is saying that this is not a university residence, yet it will be built on university lands and students will be the primary tenants providing this operator’s profits.”
CUPE and student groups maintain that the intended project does not fit the current zoning—namely University/College. Trent’s application for providing the 99-year lease will be heard at City Hall next Wednesday July 15th.
“There is absolutely no doubt that this type of privatization and commercialization of our campuses has, and will continue to be fuelled, by chronic underfunding of post-secondary education by both provincial and federal governments,” said Ryan. “This underfunding has sown the seeds for turning post-secondary education from a public good into a marketplace commodity and it must be stopped.”
For more information, contact:
Derek Blackadder, CUPE Staff Representative 705-930-3724
Karen Sutherland, President, CUPE 3808 705-748-1011 x 6070
Sid Ryan, CUPE Ontario President 416-209-0066
Valerie Dugale, CUPE Communications 647-225-3685