Master plan unveiled Framework for Bannatyne campus development put on display

Students, faculty, and staff gathered in the Brodie Centre atrium on April 15 for an open house presenting the draft of the Bannatyne Campus Master Plan. The plan is meant to set the parameters for the development of the Bannatyne campus for the next several years. An additional open house was held at the Helen Glass Centre on the Fort Garry Campus on May 1.

This draft is the culmination of two years of planning and community engagement. Several events have been held over the past year to gather input from U of M organizations and community members. Over 800 people and 30 organizations were consulted.

“[The plan] provides an overall framework and vision for the long term based on needs that have been identified,” said Jonathan Hildebrand of the Campus Planning Office, who was present at the open house.

“It’s such a long-term plan that there needs to be room for flexibility [ . . . ] The plan allows for that kind of flexibility, as long as things still adhere to the principles and vision that have been developed through the engagement process.”

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The plan is light on specifics and this seems to have been by design. One of the posters at the open house proclaimed: “The plan is flexible in terms of the sequence of new buildings, and is not at the detailed level of building design and programming.”

Mostly it outlines general principles. The plan emphasizes the urban character of the campus, and calls for the development of more amenities and services on campus while staying within the current campus footprint. This would mean building up rather than out. Another principle is the promotion of healthy lifestyles for the health sciences campus, which means providing for pedestrian and cyclist traffic and establishing green spaces.

The plan also promotes the use of public transit, and establishes a long-term goal of reducing private vehicle traffic to the campus. Sustainability issues are addressed with the mandate that new buildings adhere to the Manitoba Green Building policy and other environmental standards. The plan also calls for more spaces for interdisciplinary interaction and increasing integration into the surrounding community.

However, the plan does present the results of a few specific decisions. The faculty of nursing, which is to be relocated to the Bannatyne campus, will be housed in a new building to be built on what is currently a staff parking lot across McDermot Avenue from the dentistry building. Nearby there will be two interdisciplinary research and teaching buildings, also built on surface lots. An “outreach” building that serves as a transition between the campus and the community will also be built nearby, at the corner of McDermot and Tecumseh Street.

An early stage of the plan calls for two levels to be added to the Bannatyne parkade to accommodate some of the parking spots displaced by the loss of surface lots. In the long term, the plan aims to reduce the need for parking by encouraging other forms of transportation. The plan acknowledges that campus parking needs are “still acute,” but says, “the University will work with partners on opportunities to address these issues.”

The plan shows a proposed green space in the place that is now occupied by the ageing Basic Science Building, which is destined for demolition. Another space on Bannatyne Avenue across from the Basic Medical Services building is slated to become the “Medicine Wheel Garden,” a green space designed to be a “cross-cultural teaching tool”  and place of ceremony.

One of the goals of the plan is to develop McDermot Avenue, which runs through the centre of the campus and the Health Sciences Centre, into a “central spine” with an “interactive village streetscape” while still allowing it to be used by public transit and vehicle traffic.

Reception of the plan by students and staff was mixed. Parking is a concern — no fewer than three individuals made the same wry observation that the proposed nursing building would crush their cars. One student expressed concern at the plan’s lack of specific detail. “They don’t even have a timeline, not even a conservative timeline. I’m skeptical that change will actually happen.”

One staff member was more optimistic about the plan. “I like the modern approach to active living, it’s very different for Winnipeg — more like New York, actually.”

Currently the Bannatyne Campus Master Plan is in its final draft form. It was submitted to the Board of Governors and was approved in late March. The draft of the plan can be viewed through the Campus Planning Office’s website here.

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