UVic seeking input for campus infrastructure plan

With the first phase of the Campus Plan Update officially underway, the University of Victoria welcomes input and participation from the campus community and general public to help provide a refreshed vision and direction for future campus development.

The Campus Plan Update will revisit the goals and mission of the 2003 Campus Plan, which speaks to the physical development of campus under three main themes: buildings and land use, transportation and parking, and natural and open-space areas.

“The [2003 Plan] served the campus well,” said Neil Connelly, Director, Campus Planning and Sustainability. “But like anything, it needs to be refreshed.”

In December 2014, the Campus Planning Committee created an Engagement Plan to guide student, staff, faculty, and community involvement. The first of these activities, the Mobile Booth, ran from Jan. 13-16 and allowed students to track areas of interest via interactive campus maps and displays.

During the Mobile Booth, the UVic Urban Development Club (UDC) worked alongside third-party consultants from Dialog, an urban design company with offices across Canada, to obtain student feedback and determine areas of concern on campus.

“A lot of what I saw was dark pathways at nighttime,” said UDC member Luke Chamberlain. “There’s a lot of concern over that.” Students expressed disinterest in areas like Henderson, on the south end of campus, and some of the pathways by the Engineering and Computer Science building, which can be dark and potentially dangerous at night.

Traffic congestion by the SUB and the lack of dispersed food services and common areas throughout campus were other common concerns, according to the UDC.

The second organized event, the Speakers Event, will take place on Jan. 28 and feature speakers such as Acting VP Academic and Provost Valerie Kuehne, School of Environmental Studies professor Eric Higgs, Mechanical Engineering associate professor Andrew Rowe, and Antonio Gomez-Palacio, a Dialog expert on campus planning.

“We’re really on the ground floor at this point in terms of the Campus Plan Update,” Connelly said. “Nothing has been set in that sense, so it’s really the opportunity for people to offer comments and perspectives.”

The third and final organized event of Phase 1, the Ideas Forum, will occur on Feb. 4 and allow students, staff, faculty, and community members to contribute ideas and suggestions via a drop-in engagement session. An Ideas Workshop will also be hosted on Feb. 4, but is invite-only.

“We only give this kind of input every 10 years,” said Miranda Maslany, one of UVision’s lead volunteers. “So it’s an important window of time.” UVision has spent the last two years compiling their report, which they submitted to Campus Planning and Sustainability on Jan. 23.

“We have learned so much getting input from a wide range of student groups and individual students on campus,” Maslany said. “This included surveys, an open house and many conversations with student groups.”

Campus Planning and Sustainability will also be posting a survey on their website and engaging campus involvement through their Photo Contest, which is currently open and will run until Feb. 15.

With the materials gathered from Phase 1, Campus Planning and Sustainability plans to draft concepts this April, begin drafting the Plan in Sept. 2015, and finalize the Plan in Jan. 2016.

“Urban planners are hired not to create master plans themselves, but rather to facilitate engagement and gauge what the community wants,” UDC president Oliver Tennant explained. “They’re people builders and they’re engagers and the more you engage, the better plan they’ll have in the end because the better it will be for all.”

The Speakers Event will take place on Jan. 28 from 4:30-6 p.m. in the Bob Wright Building, B150 and the Idea Forum will take place on Feb. 4 from 12-2 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. in the SUB’s Michele Pujol Room.

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