By Rob South
Plans to build a research transition facility at the University of Calgary came to an abrupt halt on June 27 when the Calgary Regional Health Authority decided it no longer wanted to be a partner in the project. The CRHA withdrew its support because it is entering a new phase of capital development.
"As part of that long-term process, the [CRHA] is withdrawing its participation in the proposal at this time and will review further options for the development of the project," said Roman Cooney, CRHA Vice-president Communications.
The proposed facility was to use 75 per cent of its space to house Calgary Laboratory Services, whose primary business is diagnostic work for the CRHA. The remaining 25 per cent of the space was to help U of C professors turn research into products and services for the public. The university is now looking for new partners for a similar project.
"We would be looking for someone who can contribute to the research agenda of the institution, the academic/teaching component of the institution and at the same time is looking for sufficient space to make the cash flow appropriate to build an RTF," said Stu Reid, Executive Director of External Relations at the U of C.
The U of C was listed as one of the potential sites for the new Children’s Hospital for which the CRHA recently received provincial funding. Reid does not believe there is a connection between the RTF withdrawal and the Children’s Hospital.
"I don’t think the CRHA’s withdrawal from the RTF is directly linked to the Children’s Hospital being considered for campus. I think the fact that the CRHA got a significant infusion of capital funding caused them to step back and reconsider their capital plans."
The University Heights Community Association opposed the planned RTF. Residents were concerned with the traffic the facility might produce. Also, some residents were unsure whether the facility would produce airborne biohazards.
"There are a number of our community residents that are pleased that the facility is not going ahead," said Craig McDougall, University Heights Community Association Director of Development.
The U of C will continue consulting surrounding communities in an effort to develop a campus community plan for future developments.
"We’ll continue to talk about the kinds of facilities we may need, the nature of those facilities, the criteria that we’ll apply to those facilities; we will be looking for feedback from the neighbourhoods," said Reid. "We’re committed to continue to work with the neighbourhoods."
McDougall appreciates the U of C’s efforts.
"I think that we were able to work well together even though we did not see eye to eye, but it was always very cordially. We look forward to a continued relationship."