A glance into the U of O’s future

Photos: Courtesy of Urban Strategies Inc.

Due to the University of Ottawa’s rapid expansion over the past two decades, alumni who visit campus often say they have trouble recognizing their alma mater.

There’s more soon to come. On March 10, the university unveiled its master plan for future development, promising current students a similar shock.

Urban Strategies Inc. held consultations with students the week prior, showing off new plans that include thousands of new residences, academic buildings, green spaces, and even campuses.

Several core facilities have been slated for demolition in the coming years, including the current University Centre, Brooks residence, Thompson residence, and much of the property along King Edward Avenue.

The university centre, named after the former student federation president Jock Turcot, who died in a car crash in 1965, was completed in 1973, and is one of the first buildings currently on the chopping block.

The first major change students will see this fall is a complete renovation of the central core of campus that includes the removal of the FSS parking lot, similar to the work done on the Tabaret lot.

“The university has quite high standards for green buildings,” said Tim Smith, senior associate at Urban Strategies, pointing to added green spaces, walkways, and cycling paths in lieu of existing asphalt roads.

Smith said “there shouldn’t be too many disruptions for students” while the project is in development.

There are no plans to add parking elsewhere, he said. Any new parking would “most likely be underground,” beneath buildings that will eventually be built along King Edward Avenue.

“Students and faculty and staff here use transit so well that there’s actually more parking on campus than what’s really needed, than what’s actually being used,” he said.

Other short-term projects are the new learning centre to be built next to Lamoureux, a consolidated health sciences building on Lees campus, the residence on Henderson Avenue currently under construction, the Arts Court redevelopment, additional development at Roger Guindon Hall, and a new university centre.

The university’s new plans also address its shortfall of residences on campus.

Smith said they hope to have 6,400 total residences in the next few years—3,000 more than they currently have. The construction will be mostly along King Edward and near Lees campus, he said.

The Henderson residence will house almost 200 students. The university is also competing with several private developers in the area who have taken advantage of the high demand for student housing in the downtown core. Long-term, the university is aiming to have up to 13,000 residences on its various properties.

The university has also set aside room for new athletic services, although it hasn’t set out any clear-cut plans for the near future. They do eventually plan to add several buildings with new gyms and facilities on Mann Avenue across from the Minto Sports Complex.

The master plan also aims to create more “complete” facilities at Lees, Alta Vista, and Robinson precincts, which includes services and businesses in addition to academic spaces. The city’s forthcoming light rail transit will help connect the separate campuses.

While the university’s plans aim to improve student experience at the U of O, current students will be long gone before most of the plans are implemented.