More than just a place to stay: College Quarter looks to continue expansion

By in News

Students at the University of Saskatchewan can expect to see more development in College Quarter come spring, and along with that process will come new opportunities to have their voices heard and to input ideas.

The U of S has been progressing in the development of College Quarter since plans for the space emerged in 2009. Further growth in this area is coming soon, with plans to join with the private sector to provide retail and hotel accommodations, linking campus with the community.

The College Quarter Master Plan, released in January 2010, outlines work that has been done in the area as well as what is in store for the future. Plans for College Quarter have won several awards, including the 2011 Canadian Society of Landscape Architects National Honour Award and the Premier’s Award of Merit of the Design Council of Saskatchewan in 2013.

Above and beyond these accolades, Judy Yungwirth, director of Corporate Administration at the U of S, is confident in the master plan, crediting the production process as a notable contributing College Quarter Supplied by ...factor.

“It’s a pretty big document; there was a lot of consultation going into it and it took a long time to create,” Yungwirth said.

While the overall collaboration on the project is a significant factor in itself, James Cook, business opportunities manager of Corporate Administration at U of S, believes that students have also played an important role, both in and out of the classroom.

According to Cook, over the years student projects have been completed by those studying planning, engineering, as well as environment and sustainability.

“The development of the College Quarter Master Plan also included a series of consultations to get student input into the concept, which included the U of S Students’ Union at various stages and also residence students,” Cook said.

Plans to move forward in the College Quarter Master Plan include the addition of a hotel and retail establishments, for which the university is now seeking parties interested in development.

“Hopefully you’re going to see a hotel in the spring. We’re working really hard on the plans for a new ice facility and that would be south of the fieldhouse. We’re thinking about establishing our retail village next,” Yungwirth said.

A top priority for those involved in the planning process has been the integration of campus within Saskatoon.

“It’s the connection between the university and the community, so it should provide a really wide range of uses. It will include student services and recreational facilities; we’re also hoping for some retail opportunities and office space as well as existing residential accommodations. In addition to providing services for students and staff, it also provides for the community. It’s a place where we can come together,” Yungwirth said.

Gabe Senecal, vice-president academic affairs at the USSU, is a fourth-year urban planning student who believes this development is a positive step forward.

“I have been particularly interested in these infrastructure projects. The planning and priorities committee of the university council, which makes a lot of financial and resource decisions at the U of S, had a couple of presentations early in the fall regarding the vision of the general area, which I was very happy to see and happy to give a little bit of feedback to,” Senecal said.

Senecal is passionate about the pedestrian-oriented design and believes that its focus on walkways will provide not only convenience for students, but will also play a role in creating a sustainable community within the space.

“I’ve advocated strongly for the greenway; I think it’s a really important thing to keep in mind to create a community in itself in the whole College Quarter area,” Senecal said.

Opportunities for student involvement will continue to arise throughout the evolution of College Quarter. Yungwirth encourages students interested in campus recreation to get involved in the process.

“We had done consultations before on a recreation plan for this area and we’re probably going to have another round of those in the spring. We want to reconfirm with the campus community through conversations with the students before we take further action.”

Emily Migchels

Image: U of S Corporate Administration / Supplied