Guelph Turfgrass Institute finally taking root in new location

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By John Devine

Special to Ontario Construction News

In a better-late-than-never scenario, work on a new location for the Guelph Turfgrass Institute is finally underway.

Construction on a new institute, managed by the University of Guelph and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, was supposed to start in 2018, and be finished the following year. Delays, according to reports, were in part created by the need for additional environmental assessments for the new site near College Avenue.

According to the tender documents, the project scope includes construction and renovation of the educational facility. Completed plans call for the renovation of an existing building and construction of a 13,410-sq.-ft., two-story above grade educational facility.

The university’s board of governors had approved a new location back in 2015, from its current location on Victoria Road. City of Guelph development plans call for the old location to become the Guelph Innovation District.

The institute sits on land owned by the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario, leasing it from the province which wants to sell the property for the innovation district. Guelph council approved the province’s plans last March, and has a say on possible new owners. It’s anticipated the sale will be completed by this March.

The institute was established in 1987 to research and provide information on turfgrass production and management to members of the Canadian turfgrass industry, although turfgrass research at the Ontario Agricultural College dates back to the early 1940s. Studies are conducted on related matters, including grass types, pesticides, seeding methods, and sports field construction.

“The Guelph Turfgrass Institute, the first of its kind in Canada, is dedicated to conducting quality research and providing accurate and timely information and education services in turfgrass science with a special emphasis on environmental sustainability and enhancement,” according to the institute’s mission statement.

“The first of its kind in Canada, the institute is already recognized as a world-class centre for research, extension work and professional development for the study of turf.”

The institute offers diploma and certificate courses, and professional development, as well as services including The GTI Diagnostic Clinic, “an invaluable resource to Canadian turfgrass managers (and it) strives to support sound management decisions based on the principles of integrated pest management.”

The relocation of the institute is costing $15 million, a cost being carried by the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario and the turfgrass industry. The drive to new digs was sparked by Guelph’s development plans for the 1,000 acres in the east-end of the city on which the institute sits.

According to a background document, plans to redevelop the area have been in works since 2001, when it was announced that the Ontario Reformatory in the north-east portion of area would be closing.

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