TRU continues to create its identity through Campus Master Plan

Future of the university calls for densification, less vehicles on campus and a lively public realm

While construction seems to be a permanent fixture on campus, TRU’s three largest current construction projects will all be substantially completed within the next three years. (Aidan Grether/The Omega)

TRU’s 2013 Campus Master Plan, which was recently reviewed last month, is progressing exactly as planned, says TRU vice-president administration and finance Matt Milovick. Originally designed to create a “destination campus and a prominent identity,” according to Campus Master Plan Overview presented to TRU’s Board of Governors, the plan looks to densify TRU’s campus and create a welcoming public community.

While the Nursing and Population Health building is expected to be substantially completed by May of 2020 and the developments behind Old Main by 2021/2022, Milovick and TRU’s administration are looking much further into the future.

Over the next few decades, the university will look to fill out an addition 1.9 million sq. ft. of academic buildings (compared to 1.1 million sq. ft. currently on campus) and 2 million sq. ft. of trust developments.

“I think it’s a great plan. People who haven’t been to this campus for ten years, if they came back, they’d be sufficiently impressed by what’s happened here,” Milovick said. “I think the important thing for the community to note is that we can expand our academic space from 1.1 million sq. ft. to about 3 million sq. ft.”

In relation to the Trust developments, the university’s next plan is to develop the corner of Summit Drive and McGill Road.

“As it relates to the Trust developments, the next property of interest that we are looking at developing is 800 University Drive, which is the corner of Summit and McGill. That is really the crown jewel of the Trust developments,” Milovick said. “We view that as a mixed use, so their will be 40,000 sq. ft. of retail on the ground floor and a mix of office and residential above, probably in three different buildings with underground parking.”

While Parking Lot E will end up being removed to make space for the new developments, this fits with TRU’s plan to push parking to the extremities of the campus and densify its centre, says Milovick.

However, Milovick assures the TRU community that there will always be enough parking in what the master plan calls for. In fact, compared to the Campus Master Plan’s minimum requirements for parking, which is 2,481 stalls, the university currently has 2,850 stalls.

“There is enough parking in what the campus master plan calls for, it’s just to push all that parking to the perimeter,” Milovick said. “Parking in perpetuity will exist behind the tower residence and A&E. Pretty much all the interior lots are going to disappear. We’ll have some accessibility parking where we need it, but not a lot, almost zero, interior parking.”

As parking will slowly be pushed to the edge of campus and TRU will try to conserve as much green space as possible, Milovick believes the construction of a parkade is unlikely. In addition to this, the project becomes even less feasible when costs and topography are factored in, he says.

“A parkade would quadruple the cost to park on this campus. We were using figures based on normal topography and we don’t have normal topography, so you’d have more challenges and more costs,” Milovick said. “And we are by no means going to subsidize parking through tuition fees or grants. We have bought a lot of property on the periphery of campus. A lot of it had parking included, but we didn’t buy it for that reason.”

Yet for students and staff worried about parking, Milovick says that they can now check lot distance to buildings through TRU’s website to determine where is best to park.

“We are going to put that on our parking website so students can determine just how far a parking lot is to where there classes are going to be, their first stop of the day. It doesn’t make sense for a student to drive around a lot when they could go park somewhere else and walk for five minutes,” he said. “It’ll be on the website first and then we’ll build functionality into the TRU app.”