West campus development plans begins

By Susan Anderson

In early June 2011, the west campus development board established a corporation to start the plans for the west campus expansion.

The University of Calgary is not in the business of land development, so a legally independent company was created to manage the development.

The independent board of directors, which is comprised of university stakeholders and industry professionals, is in the process of hiring the first ceo of the corporation. The land had been put into trust, with the board of directors acting as trustee and the University of Calgary as the beneficiary — meaning the board of the directors holds and takes care of the property on behalf of the U of C and with the university’s interest in mind.

The creation of the corporation is a big step, and construction could start as early as 2014. There are no definite dates so far. The west campus vision is still in the initial planning stages. The next steps is applying to the City of Calgary for land use approval. This will be a very public process with the opportunity for students and the public to express their concerns.

“It’s an interesting project to look at,” said su president and west campus development board member Dylan Jones. “If all goes as planned, it will be a pretty cool way to have a community and campus environment.”

The time frame to complete the west campus development is around 20-25 years.

“Two hundred acres of land were gifted to us by the province of Alberta in 1994,” explained Jones.

In 2007, a master plan created a vision for the land.

The vision was to “create a 24- hour community on the campus, change it from a commuter campus which it is now, and create a sort of 24-hour activity centre,” explained director of west campus development Andrew Wallace.

There would be residential, commercial and retail opportunities in the west campus, a sort of “mixed use town.” The development would help attract people to the campus.

“The idea is to bring the community to the campus in a living and working environment,” said Jones. “I toured two other schools that have done this.”

Simon Fraser and the University of British Columbia both have residential areas that are connected to campus.

The master plan calls for around 9 million square feet of development, half of that would be residential.

The university wants to concentrate the academic growth on the main campus so that most classes will be within a 10-minute walk from the Taylor Family Digital Library.

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