Concerns about the future of Laurentian University's greenspace

Peter Beckett, a restoration ecologist, was one of the guides Thursday on the walk of the Laurentian University greenspace. (Alana Everson/CTV News)

The greenspace surrounding Laurentian University has long been a space where Sudburians hike, swim, ski, learn, and connect to nature and family.

But many people are concerned that the university's insolvency could put it at risk, as the school reviews its assets to pay off creditors.

On Thursday morning, more than 50 people took part in a walking exploration of the space to learn more about why it needs to be protected.

Peter Beckett, a restoration ecologist, was a guide on the walk.

Beckett said the LU greenspace is key to the community's well-being and could become the High Park or Central Park of Sudbury in years to come.

"These days, as we know during COVID, the importance of nature and being outside is very important to mental health to physical health," he said.

"And also over the years, this area has been much improved by the regreening program and so in … another 50 years, this is going to be a very lush green forest."

Sheilah Arena was also a guide on the walk, and is an avid trail user and volunteer.

"Thousands and thousands of hours of volunteer work and a lot of money has gone into making these trails what they are -- safe," said Arena.

Residents, environmentalists and Sudbury NDP MPP Jamie West walked the trails and said no price tag can be put on the value to keeping the greenspace accessible to the public.

"With the insolvency, we could lose some or all of this," said West. "And that may affect the pollution levels, that may affect quality of life and the other infrastructure here."

"I think it's important to help spread the word and raise the awareness about how important this is to many people in the community," he added.

Members of the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury also took part.

"Sudbury has been amazing, showing up, writing letters to the editor, sending letters to the real estate company and the board of governors and to the city and we want to keep that momentum going," said Sharon Roy, co-chair of Coalition For a Liveable Sudbury.

The Coalition is urging people who want to protect the greenspace to join its call to action to keep the lands public.