Shaping campus for future decades: U of S seeks student engagement for master plan

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On June 13, the University of Saskatchewan Office of Sustainability hosted a public engagement event at Amigos Cantina for Saskatoon community members to give direct input in developing the master plan of the campus.

The framework will focus on principles of sustainability, utilization of space, community and experience on campus, while also balancing the heritage of buildings with distinct design elements like open spaces. Since 1907, when the U of S was founded, the university has developed only three master plans, published in 1909, 1954 and 2003.

Abigail Weger, a third-year student in regional and urban planning, discusses what she hopes will be implemented into the framework of the plan.

“​​Personally, I would love to see improved infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists along main roads, specifically at the intersection of College Drive and Cumberland Avenue. I would also like to see more connections made between pathways throughout campus, especially from the main hub of the Bowl to buildings further out,” Weger said, in an email to the Sheaf.

Students, faculty, staff and the public can contribute to the strategic plan that will determine the purpose of campus space for decades to come at various pop-up consulting sessions during the summer and fall. Altogether, the project is set to last 18 months and is being executed with the help of a number of external consulting companies.

Deena Kapacila, U of S Students’ Union vice-president operations and finance, explains that this is a long-term plan that will span all aspects of the university, and she hopes, will reflect the needs of students.

“I had the opportunity to speak to a few students at the [public engagement] event who seemed the most excited about bike-share and sustainable infrastructure. I look forward to the consultation sessions the consulting company [will conduct] over the school year and the feedback students [will] have for them. I hope we see a final plan that students see themselves and their needs reflected in,” Kapacila said, in an email to the Sheaf.

Nyle Segovia, a third-year regional and urban planning student and president of the U of S Planning Students’ Association, explains that he hopes the City of Saskatoon can work with the university to successfully implement this framework for greater efficiency.

“One of the options that was given that really stood out to me was the option of a campus grocery store, [as] currently the campus is a food desert… In addition, the improvements in the Saskatoon transit system open up an opportunity for the campus to implement some changes and improvements that will encourage the use of public transit,” Segovia said, in an email to the Sheaf.

Segovia expresses the desire to see the campus become a community atmosphere where students, faculty, staff and visitors can easily access resources on campus. He also commends the planning project for identifying the importance of winter activities on campus, and he hopes this stays at the forefront of the project.

At the Amigos public engagement event, panels displayed information on the objective of the project and prompted attendees to share what they enjoy and dislike about the current campus infrastructure. Information was gathered on where people commute from within the city, what kind of transportation they use, and also, which design concepts the public would like implemented into the plan.

Weger explains that she was impressed with the project’s questions, because they not only focused on architectural design but also the fact that the feeling of the new space was integral. She adds that she attended the public consultation event so that she could represent the interests and needs of students, even if she may not see the end results.

“Even though I might not see the master plan implemented in my time as a U of S student, it was important to attend [the event] because I believe that [the] voice of a student matters,” Weger said. “Those who are involved in developing the master plan really do care about what the students wish to see in their, or if not their, someone else’s future.”

Nykole King / News Editor

Photo: J.C. Balicanta Narag / Photo Editor