Planning for a campus in the park

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Campus Master Plan looks to highlight University of Regina’s location

Jennifer Squires
News Writer

The new Campus Master Plan was revealed earlier this month to a small but eager crowd.

Facilities Management held a public forum unveiling their new plan for campus building improvements on Oct. 7. Several administration staff attended the meeting, including University of Regina Vice President of External Affairs Barb Pollock, various faculty deans and associate deans. The crowd also included university employees and students, as well as members of the community.

Vice President of Administration Dave Button brought greetings from Vianne Timmons and offered a short introduction where he emphasized the need of the U of R family and community at large. “We need your input,” he told the audience. “We want everyone's opinion as to how we take and develop and go forward with this.”

Next the crowd was shown a video highlighting success and success stories aimed to pitch the U of R through a commit to sustainability, diversity, and getting away from the ivory tower of the university as a means of introduction to the Campus Master Plan. 

Jennifer Keesmaat presented the plan on behalf of the Toronto developing firm Dialog.

Essentially, the Campus Master Plan is an guiding document that will be used to implement projects that are related to the new strategic plan released last year, “mâmawohkamâtowin: Our Work, Our People, Our Communities.”

Keesmaat says “The Campus Master Plan is really about fulfilling the strategic plan and the academic mission of the university.”

The title of the plan is “A Campus in the Park”, which is based on the responses in a series of consultations. The responses indicated that one of the key aspects of the U of R is its location in Wascana Center, and that was something Keesmaat and Dialog sought to highlight.

The plan is aimed at highlighting the U of R as a visionary, inclusive, sustainable and vibrant place of learning where you can get from place to place with ease, whether inside or out. It's about being a compact, connected, walkable campus.

Dialog came up with a list of eight reasons to love the new plan, including enhancing entranceways, building a ceremonial green, a residential quadrant, and an athletic plaza. The three biggest things to love, according to Dialog and Keesmaat, are a gateway building at the south entrance and a new parking strategy.

The gateway building at the south entrance would see a Riddell Center expansion all the way to the University Drive West. The expansion would include a visitor's center, retail amenities and an atrium used for an indoor transit waiting area. Potentially this new building would house the bookstore and a coffee shop. 

Keesmaat says this is an important part of the process, as this expansion would “provide a face and a front door to campus.”

Parking was a major issue for those in attendance and the Campus Master Plan addressed parking more than any other topic. The main goal in the plan is to reduce the amount of surface parking on campus by building structured parking (such as a multi-level parkade) where Lot 4 currently is, creating on level parkades under buildings, having parking on top of new buildings and creating 250 on street parking spots.

The plan currently does not reduce parking, but Keesmaat is calling for a paradigm shift and a phasing out of parking on campus. There is an emphasis on working with the transit system more and creating car pooling programs with incentives.     Besides Riddell Center, a number of other buildings have recommended expansions including College West, the Classroom Building, the Library, Administration–Humanities and the Education building. There is also a proposal for additional on-campus housing where Lots 2 and 3 currently are.

There is no time frame for these plans, as they are currently just suggestions that are yet to be approved. But in the event that everything goes through in the master plan, development will be determined by greatest academic need. Currently the Library, Education building and Riddell center expansions are top priority.

The Campus Master Plan has been in development since December of last year and Facilities Management is hoping to present the final draft of the plan to the university’s board of governors on December 7th. Keesmaat says that it’s been “a lot of work in a very short period of time.”

Keesmaat wants to make it clear that the Campus Master Plan is not a capital project: “we aren't saying we are going to build this for sure. It's a policy framework used to guide decision making.”

More about the Campus Master Plan, including maps of what the campus could look like in years to come, can be found at http://www.uregina.ca/physplnt/masterplan/index.shtml.

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