VIU students benefit from Lantzville Foothills Estates agreement

NANAIMO – Lantzville Foothills Estates and Vancouver Island University reach memorandum of understanding for undeveloped land.

While development of Lantzville Foothills Estates is still a long way off, the developer will allow Vancouver Island University to utilize it.

Similar to Nanaimo Search and Rescue, which is allowed to train on site, Mark Holland, Foothills Estates’ director of development and part-time instructor with the university’s planning program, will allow the post-secondary institution to use the land for educational purposes.

“We’ve signed a memorandum of understanding (in the fall) with the university to make our site and our project available to the university for pretty much all kinds of uses that their faculty, students, etc., would like to use it for – research examples, hypotheticals and I’m going to try and get students involved wherever I can in the project.

“Our project benefits from an intellectual perspective from the university and the university benefits from having a real-life project they can use for research and for examples,” said Holland.

Holland said he will reach out to other departments in the coming months. Many faculties can benefit, said Holland.

Health students can evaluate a new community plan based on health and environment. Biology students interested in streams and local native habitat of species would benefit from access to the site, he said.

“If we want to look at innovative road design for steep hillsides in some technical program, great. Let’s sit down and work that out. I’m very happy to supervise projects, studies, make my information available to them etc., so it kind of becomes a big sandbox that any faculty who wants can play in,” Holland said.

David Witty, university provost and vice-president academic, said the university is always exploring opportunities to get students involved in the community, including through linking programs.

“This one in particular was an opportunity to link our new master’s in community planning with a group that’s exploring and promoting unique forms of development and particularly on the green, sustainable side,” said Witty.

He said the university thought it was a good opportunity to collaborate and through the memorandum, there will be chances for students to get involved in assignments that explore a variety of development types.