Plans Under Way for Guelph Turfgrass Institute Relocation

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grassNew turfgrass plots will soon be growing in the University of Guelph’s Arboretum.

Site preparations are under way for grass plots to be planted in the north section of the Arboretum this month. Once mature, the grasses will become part of the Guelph Turfgrass Institute (GTI), relocating to the Arboretum in 2018.

“Our goal is to create a state-of-the-art facility that fosters a unique sense of place,” said Don O’Leary, vice-president (finance, administration and risk).

“We have a comprehensive and co-ordinated design approach in engineering, environmental sustainability and landscape architecture.”

The GTI — established in 1987 – is recognized as a world-class centre for turfgrass research, education, service and professional development.

Institute members study environmental aspects of pesticide use; evaluation of grass species, varieties and seeding methods; sports field construction; and biological and cultural disease control. The GTI is home to the Ontario Turfgrass Research Foundation, the Ontario Golf Superintendents’ Association and Sports Turf Canada.

The institute is managed by the University under U of G’s enhanced partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). It’s currently located on property owned by the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO), north of College Avenue and east of Victoria Road (part of the York District lands).

U of G’s Board of Governors approved the relocation during its June 2015 meeting.

Rich Moccia, associate vice-president research (strategic partnerships), said the relocation reflects changes in the provincial government’s long-term development needs for the property, including the current GTI complex.

The University, ARIO, OMAFRA and the turfgrass industry are working closely together on the relocation effort, including financing the project, Moccia said. “This is an excellent example of an effective partnership.”

Plans call for construction of a new facility in 2017. The GTI building will remain open until its planned relocation in fall 2018.

The new location is a nearly seven-hectare parcel in the Arboretum off College Avenue East, southeast of Cutten Fields Golf Club. The land is now mostly old-field meadow.

The proposed plan includes installation of turfgrass research plots and greens, an irrigation pond, two stormwater retention ponds and an upgrade of existing facilities at the new site.

The new GTI will include a main turfgrass institute building. Three existing structures onsite will be renovated for new uses.

An archeological investigation is under way. A traffic study, historical assessment and geotechnical investigations for turf plots and buildings have been completed.

An environmental impact study examined such factors as vegetation communities, disturbance to wildlife, encroachment on natural areas and species at risk. Mitigation strategies and compensation recommendations were included and will be followed, O’Leary said.

Land will also be developed at U of G’s Elora Research Station for larger projects.

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Proposed Concept: Relocation of the Guelph Turfgrass Institute

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