By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
A plan to guide the future of Oshawa’s post-secondary institutions is slated for completion in the coming weeks.
Andrea Bourrie, the senior planning director and associate partner of planning and environmental design with MMM Group – the agency assisting the instiutions in the development of the plan – says the document itself has been completed and now needs to be presented to the schools’ respective boards.
A presentation with Durham College is set for the end of this month, with a presentation to the board at UOIT planned for the end of June.
Bourrie says a presentation to the community and an open house will occur in September.
“Most students and faculty and staff at the college and university will be gone by the end of June and also, just for the broader community as well because a lot of people are away for the summer. So, we’ll just launch everything in September when the new school year starts,” Bourrie says of the plan which has been in the works since August 2013.
Once implemented, the master plan will guide the decisions of the institutions around potential future development and lay out plans for dealing with student growth and the construction of new facilities.
The document allows the campuses to respond faster to opportunities when they arise, says Karen Young, the campus master plan coordinator.
“We have a plan in place for where buildings can go, so as opportunities arise or as needs are determined, we can use the plan to guide where the next building will go and we’ve already got the base or the background information into starting the development of that space,” Young says.
The first phase of the plan looks at buildings around the existing Simcoe Street North campus, specifically around the library, and also addresses the development of the land north of the Simcoe Street and Conlin Road intersection. A potential option would see the movement of the athletic facilities located in that area.
Bourrie says the development around the campus will follow the most logical routes, looking at those areas that are already prepped for construction with existing utilities and lines.
“We’re not going to hopscotch around and do a little bit here and a little bit there. We’re going to follow the plan in terms of what makes logical sense in terms of land use, but also infrastructure,” Bourrie says.
The master plan also includes the estimated financial implications for each new addition.
“It gives a sense for each phase of development…how much money is going to need to be invested by the two institutions and the community to bring this vision to a reality,” Bourrie says.
Bourrie did not share any of the specific financial aspects of the plan, as the document is not yet public, but over the full fallout of the plan, with phase four reaching as far as 40 years from now, the dollar amounts are significant, she says.
Along with new campus facilities, the plan also looks into possible ways to increase campus walkability, creating a unified appearance of the campus and at the same time, making the campus more open to active transportation, while making sure there is enough parking for students and staff.
As much as the plan is in place to guide decisions, Young says changes will most likely have to be made down the line.
“It definitely will have to be moldable, we have consulted broadly and we’ve tried to bring all possibilities into it, but as we move forward definitely, we can’t predict everything,” she says.
Young says the future of the institutions looks bright and having the plan will be a positive economic impact on Oshawa and Durham Region.
“We have the skeleton, or the plans, in place for expansion and we could bring a lot to the area, Oshawa, Durham, Northumberland County, if we are able to expand and bring the students to this area and the additional faculty and staff. It could have a lot of economic impact,” she says.