The University of Guelph has strong interest in the development of the Guelph Innovation District (GID) lands, which went on the market this week.
The 328.6-acre tract is adjacent to the University’s Arboretum at the northeast corner of Stone Road East and Victoria Road South. This week, the Ontario government put the GID lands up for sale.
One of the largest mixed-use development sites remaining in Ontario, the tract has potential land uses that may include employment, residential, commercial and natural heritage. That designation and its proximity to U of G and regional highways make the lands a prime development opportunity.
“As the closest ‘neighbours’ to the site, U of G welcomes the opportunity to engage with interested developers as they create a vision for the lands,” said Daniel Atlin, U of G’s vice-president (external).
U of G has vested interest in the lands due to the Arboretum and the University’s history and reputation for environmental sustainability, and as the former steward of the lands.
The GID is the former location of the Guelph Turfgrass Institute, a world-class centre for turfgrass research, education, service and professional development that is managed by the University under the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance, its partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
The Institute was moved to another site in the Arboretum in 2018, a relocation that reflected the changes in the provincial government’s long-term development needs for the property.
U of G’s Arboretum, adjacent to the Guelph campus, encompasses 400 acres of plant collections, gardens, walking trails, natural woodlands, wetlands and meadows. Established in 1970, it’s a popular public destination.
U of G supports the City of Guelph’s secondary plan, which outlines the vision for the GID site and its mixed-use designation. This includes a research and development “cluster” that attracts employment and residential uses, building on natural and cultural heritage resources of the area.
The University hopes to play an active role in any future development, from potentially being tenants or partners to providing insight and assistance on everything from development to conservation to landscape architecture.
“U of G is committed to improving life through research, teaching and community engagement, and environmental sustainability is a foundational focus,” Atlin said.
As well, U of G is a key contributor to Guelph’s economic prosperity, contributing $1.6 billion annually to Ontario’s economy and $1.2 billion locally, including 12,000 jobs.