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 January 8, 1999 Volume 6, Number 8

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Year 2000

University commissions study for use of land surrounding campus


The University's Board of Governors has commissioned Cochrane Brook Planning & Urban Design, of Toronto, to prepare a preferred land use plan for the University's city land holdings that's consistent with the institution's stated mission.

Last November, the Board accepted an offer from Home Depot (Canada) to purchase a 23-acre tract of University land east of the campus. But last May, when faced with some opposition to the development of the site, the giant retailer requested that the University change the site to Attridge Drive and Circle Drive [see May 8/98 OCN].

By April, 1999, the firm - in association with colleague agencies in Saskatoon, Vancouver, and Winnipeg* - plans to produce a "vision statement" for the potential use of this land, complete with analyses of its economic potential, land-use options, and transportation and infrastructure requirements.

The land area in question comprises about 600 hectares (1,500 acres) lying south, east, and north of the main campus (see adjacent map).

The selection of Cochrane Brook follows a July 1998 placement of a "Request for Prequalification" notice in the Globe and Mail and the StarPhoenix. Four companies were selected to submit a proposal for the study.

As part of its study, the Cochrane Brook conglomerate will hold three workshops with an advisory committee (comprising representatives from the U of S, the City, MVA, and Innovation Place) - one in each of December, January, and February - plus a Public Open House on both January 27, 1999, and March 31, 1999, at which the findings of the study will be presented and questions entertained.


18-week study

During the course of the 18-week study, says Judy Yungwirth, director of corporate administration, the University will welcome input from anyone with concerns, ideas, or questions about the use of these lands [ Judy.Yungwirth@usask.ca].

"Precisely because we realize that various groups hold differing views on how these lands could or should be used, or not used, we want to ensure that they each have a meaningful opportunity to voice their preferences and concerns in public."

Currently, the land in question is used primarily by the College of Agriculture for research plots. Over the past 30 years, small portions of it have been developed for single-family housing (in Silverspring), student housing, recreational facilities (notably the Field House), and research facilities, including Innovation Place.

The growth of the City, the University, and Innovation Place alike has resulted in increased pressure for the development of these lands.

The City has indicated its desire for more single-family residential development (east of Circle Drive).

Private companies have made offers to buy individual parcels for retail and commercial use.

And Innovation Place wants to expand its boundaries considerably.


Needs must be balanced

But as the University's terms of reference concerning the use of these lands states: "These needs must be balanced with the University's needs for support of research, while being sensitive to the community's expectations for change."

The University, however, isn't the only player interested in the use of these lands.

The general public has a sense of ownership of the University and an interest in its land use. The MVA has a regulatory responsibility to review any proposed developments. And the provincial and federal governments have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in research institutes and Innovation Place and therefore wish to protect and enhance that investment.

Once the land use study is completed, the municipal government will be asked to incorporate any new plans into its Municipal Development Plan and to provide utility, transportation, and community services.

Yungwirth says the results of this land use study will have some implications for the Master Campus Plan the University hopes to produce [see cover story and subsequent story], but notes that they're separate initiatives.

The University invites input concerning the future use of the University's land holdings within the city.


* The project team includes: Crosby Hanna & Associates (Saskatoon), local planning and urban design; Coriolis Consulting Corporation (Vancouver), market and financial analysis; Cochrane Engineering (Saskatoon), infrastructure; and DS Lea (Winnipeg), traffic.



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