Home CommentaryEditorial Scientific advancement is worth a bit of grass

Scientific advancement is worth a bit of grass

by The Concordian September 12, 2017
Scientific advancement is worth a bit of grass

As many people know, Concordia means “harmony” in Latin—but this sense of harmony was recently threatened as the university, its students and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce residents clashed over the construction of a new building on Loyola campus green space.

Concordia plans to begin constructing a $52-million science research centre on its Loyola campus this spring. The centre will take up 15 per cent of the nearly 8,800 square metre field. Some N.D.G. residents are unhappy about the green space being taken over by a building and urged the university build the centre on one of the nearby parking lots instead.

N.D.G. resident Irwin Rapoport had even garnered 95 signatures for a petition against the project. It was previously believed he only needed 12 signatures to require the city to open up a registry. This registry would have given the borough’s residents the power to call a referendum on the issue, presumably derailing the project. Just like that, the future of Concordia’s science student body would have been taken out of their hands.

Yet a discovery on Monday swept any chance of a referendum off the table. Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough officials discovered a clause in Bill 122, a new provincial law adopted in June, which states “public property intended for collective use in the education sector is no longer subject to approval by a referendum.”

It was a development in this confrontation that shocked many of those on both sides of the argument, not to mention borough officials themselves. It is a development we at The Concordian were very pleased to hear.

While the green space in question is used by students for friendly soccer games and locals enjoy walking in the grass, it is essentially useless. While we do not wish to undermine the importance of preserving green spaces, we at The Concordian believe a small section of grass is worth sacrificing for the sake of future scientific discoveries and the education of Concordia students. In fact, the two go hand in hand.

As a series of devastating hurricanes continue to ravage islands in the Caribbean and inundate the United States’ southern coastal states, it becomes harder and harder for even the stubbornest of climate change deniers to turn a blind eye to the evidence. As Montreal Gazette columnist Allison Hanes recently wrote, these meteorological disasters “should be a wake-up call that the long-predicted hazards of climate change are now on our doorstep.”

Now more than ever, the global community needs to be taking steps to limit the effects of climate change. Our way of life needs to adapt, and we need science to do this.

This is why the construction of the university’s new science centre is, in the words of Concordia chemistry graduate student Gabi Mandl, “kind of a major deal.”

While the centre won’t deal specifically with solving climate change, its purpose is to foster collaboration among researchers studying everything from biology and chemistry to engineering, health and sustainability. This is the kind of scientific collaboration our university, our community and the world needs. It is how we will move forward as a species and preserve the planet we call home. It is why we at The Concordian fully support the construction of the science centre, even if it means sacrificing a portion of our green space.

Sometimes you have to pick your battles. We at The Concordian are out to save more than just a patch of grass. There is so much more at stake.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth

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