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 March 26, 1999 Volume 6, Number 13

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Land-use option choice protects agricultural research, provides for retail outlets

The University's Board of Governors has approved the main parts of a proposed recommendation of a land-use option package that protects - even enhances - all critical College of Agriculture lands surrounding the campus proper while allocating other areas for various uses, including one for leasing to "large format" retailers.

At its March 12 meeting, the Board endorsed a recommendation which the Land Use Advisory Committee had selected from four options put forth by Cochrane Brook Planning and Urban Design, the Toronto-based consultants being retained for the University's land-use study [see Jan. 8/99 OCN].

But the Board members - while approving the particular option as a basis for further talks with the City and the Meewasin Valley Authority - did express strong concern about further development occurring toward the river.

Following the news that the University had retained professionals to conduct a land-use study of the properties surrounding the campus proper, researchers in the College of Agriculture expressed concern that their test plots might be rendered into other uses.

A story in the March 22 StarPhoenix, to the effect that the University plans to sell land to retail interests, is incorrect.

Judy Yungwirth, director, corporate administration, says the Cochrane Brook proposal "is recommending that any sale of land occur only on a lease-hold basis, to protect the long-term interests of the University."

The draft option selected includes the following features:

  • An altered road network accommodates College of Agriculture concerns about vehicle movement between field sites. Specifically, a new north-south Campus Connector Avenue links the campus to Innovation Place and to new development north of the CP rail line and beyond Circle Drive (by passing under or over Circle Drive) to agriculture research land north of the Attridge/Circle Drive intersection.

  • Preston Avenue is widened to a four-lane, tree-lined "Grand Avenue" and extended (and curved) to join College Drive with Attridge Drive, at a proposed new interchange at Circle Driveeach project to cost about $4 million. Preston Avenue between College and 14th Street remains a two-lane connector, but is also lined with trees.

  • Land between the CP rail line and Circle Drive is allocated to "large format"retail outlets, the establishment of a 10-acre arboretum (replacing the Patterson Gardens now on College Drive), and - with an additional area south of the rail line - an expansion of area for Innovation Place.

    (A "business park" - large enough to contain a nine-hole golf course overlooking the river - called for in this area of the design comes into question with the Board of Governors' concern that no further development should proceedtoward the river, but neither the golf course itself nor the envisaged "amenity area" there poses a problem. It's the proposed encroachment of Innovation Place buildings that causes concern.)

  • 108th Street extends west of Preston Avenue to intersect with the new Campus Connector road, thus creating a new entrance to/exit from the campus.

  • The triangular tract of land immediately south of 108th Street - the one Home Depot at one point hoped to develop - is reclaimed for potential agriculture use, short term, with future potential for student housing and/or other development.

  • Space for expanded student housing in McEown Park is indicated. Other possibilities for that area include the construction of a new rink and other commercial buildings.

In their interim report, the consultants state that the option would also mesh with City of Saskatoon plans to construct an interchange at Attridge and Circle Drive.

Vice-president Tony Whitworth says the Cochrane Brook study "will be extremely helpful to us as we look at future use of University landsincluding issues of what might be available for commercial development and for expansion of Innovation Placewithout conflicting with College of Agriculture requirements."

He adds that the details of the design plan will be subject to further discussion and that actual work on it won't begin "for a year or two."

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