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Sponsored by Trent University

Trent University kicks off landmark Seniors Village housing project

Trent University seeks like-minded organizations to design, build, finance, operate and maintain age-friendly community.

Residential Housing Ontario Mar. 19 2024 SPONSORED
Trent University
Photo credit: Trent University

When it comes to learning, teaching and research, as the #1 ranked primarily undergraduate university in Ontario, Canada, Trent University in Peterborough is committed to providing interactive, personal, purposeful and transformative education — not just to its students but the community around them.

With these ideals in mind, and as a global leader in interdisciplinary aging studies, they recently dedicated six hectares of land on their Symons campus with a very specific transformation in mind. They’re planning for a university-integrated Seniors Village — an innovative ‘campus of care’ — that will act as a learning space where students, researchers and residents can collaborate to develop new insights into aging and community building. And, they’re looking for like-minded organizations to design, build, finance, operate and maintain this age-friendly community on a go-forward basis. 

“Trent’s Seniors Village will address a major void for older, curious adults who still want to be part of a thriving and learning community,” explains Julie Davis, Trent University Vice President, External Relations & Development. “Peterborough has one of the oldest communities in Canada and one of the lowest vacancy rates for housing. A Seniors Village has incredible potential to not only provide much needed residential space and engage the senior community in life-long learning, but also provide on-site education and research to help better understand aging and deliver outside-the-box solutions to meet seniors’ evolving needs for the future.”

As an internationally recognized age-friendly university, a leader in interdisciplinary aging studies and home to the research-based Trent Centre for Aging & Society, Trent envisions the Seniors Village will provide intergenerational living and improve the social wellbeing of older adults in the region. At the same time, it can provide hands-on, experiential learning for students and research opportunities for faculty, advancing our understanding of aging. 

Paired with their drive for innovation and setting new standards for seniors living, the university has already contracted with peopleCare Communities to build and operate a 224-bed, long-term care home on Trent-leased lands adjacent to the planned Seniors Village. Trent hopes the ‘campus of care’ model will provide easy access to amenities, medical and community services and housing options, while creating a place where seniors can grow as their needs change.

Aligned with their Trent Lands Plan focused on future sustainability, archaeological and environmental studies have been conducted, vegetation has been cleared and pre-lands planning consultation is complete. Surrounded by extensive green space, with an active trail network that connects to the development parcel, the next big step for the property is finding interested parties to deliver on the mission and usher the marquis project through.

But, says Trent University’s Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, Mark Skinner, they’re not looking for just anyone to do the job. “This is a really unique development opportunity for organizations who share Trent’s vision and are just as excited as we are about the value of connecting students and older residents through experiential learning and research in creating what will be a world-class Seniors Village. 

“We want to work with companies that understand the importance of teaching and research, who see this as an opportunity to collaborate and innovate — to create the best practices in building a successful campus of care and use those practices to benefit their business and sector in the long run. Whether by connecting with kinesiology students on falls prevention research, for example, to develop the best trail system, or collaborating with our sustainable agriculture faculty to create thriving community gardens, we’re seeking organizations who are inspired by what’s possible in working with one of Canada’s leading universities.” 

As part of the Request for Prequalification (RFPQ) process, proponents are asked to contribute to Trent’s academic mission, whether offering co-op work terms or internships as a developer or hosting student field trips. Also core to the project will be weaving in expertise from Trent’s other two pillars of strength in addition to aging — environment and Indigenous studies. The school’s commitment as stewards of the land will demand a focus on low-impact development with developers encouraged to identify opportunities to incorporate Indigenous knowledge and ‘ways of doing’ adopted from local Michi Saagiig communities. 

Underexplored in earlier university-integrated seniors’ villages, these additional dynamics could prove a significant differentiator — one that could put Canada on the map, and for those involved in its development and operation, in the spotlight, as part of a landmark project setting new global standards in senior care.

“We’ve learned that there is not one solution that meets all needs,” adds Davis. “We’re looking to the community for ideas and a willingness to test new concepts. We have the assets — land, an active and engaged community and deep research in aging — and we’re looking to our community partners to bring ideas and work with us to truly innovate in this space. One day, we hope to see Trent retirees transitioning to the village, with the ability to simply walk across the street to attend lectures. What a fantastic opportunity that would be.”

The University will be hosting a virtual Project Information Session on March 25, 2024 at 10 a.m. Those looking to learn more about the project and procurement process should contact Tammy Driscoll to register. RFPQ responses should be submitted no later than 2 pm on May 10, 2024, via the University’s online Bonfire portal.

Trent University

Website: Trent University

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