July 25th, 2024

University of Lethbridge expansion being planned

By Lethbridge Herald on June 26, 2024.

A cyclist rides on a pathway south towards the Riverstone subdivision. Plans are being developed to expand the University of Lethbridge’s south campus, which consists of 100 acres between Riverstone and the main campus. Herald photo by Al Beeber

Al Beeber – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Initial discussions are being conducted on the expansion of the University of Lethbridge’s south campus.

The campus comprises 100 acres between the main campus of the U of L and Riverstone Boulevard between University Drive and the coulees.

An open house recently was staged to let residents in the area know that there is interest in expanding the campus south.

The University of Lethbridge Business Corporation, which operates at an arms length from the U of L under its own board of governors, is working to lead land development and manage properties on the school campus. All profits earned by the corporation will go to the U of L.

The south campus land, says the ULBC, isn’t necessary for academic or research pursuits of the U of L which is conducting a market analysis project to guide development of the space.

Michael Kelly, a consultant helping ULBC through the expansion process, said this week that the first open house was an extra step the corporation decided to do for people living in the area to give them a heads up and inform them a second engagement session will be held in September with more details.

“It was a heads up event, we listened to comments from people on what could be advantageous to see in the area. Others probably wouldn’t like to see anything at all. . .it was a variety of comments,” said Kelly, of the event which was originally scheduled for two hours but lasted longer with 140 people turning out.

“It was a surprise to a lot of people,” said Kelly.

“That’s why we wanted to give people the heads up so they have the opportunity now to think about it, digest some information and then when we come back in September we can have a healthy dialogue,” noted Kelly.

The corporation isn’t sure how much of the 100 acres will be developed, said Kelly, adding the U of L owns a total of 500 acres of land on campus. There is still an available expansion area of about 70 acres at the north side of the campus, as well.

The U of L master plan identifies growth to reach a student population of 12,000, he said.

The university has pockets of land in size from 25 acres to two acres scattered around the campus which could be used for more structures and parking to accommodate future academic and research goals, he added.

At the September open house, more information will be available on the plans.

A frequently asked questions page will be posted on the ULBS website about expansion plans. Storyboards from the open house are now downloadable from the site.

“We’re trying to inform people and be transparent,” said Kelly.

“This development project will take a phased approach that will benefit the university and surrounding community to shop, live, work and play,” says the ULBC website.

“The size and location of the lands represent a once in a generation opportunity to build a people centered community that contributes to the vitality of the surrounding

neighbourhoods and the city of Lethbridge,” it notes.

The expected timeline for completion is about 20 years with development expected to begin in 2025.

The corporation expects the space to include a mix of uses including residential, office, retail, community and recreational allowing future residents to ‘able to connect, thrive and enjoy local amenities within the community. A mix of housing options helps create a healthy, diverse and thriving community and allows aging in place.

The corporation says its preliminary vision for the south campus lands include:

• An inclusive, accessible and safe place to live

• Sensitive community connections

• High quality public realm and community spaces

• Explore different forms of housing; 

• Environmental sustainability; 

• Commercial/retail opportunities.

“Under the guidance of our team and Board of Directors, we envision the creation of vibrant spaces with lasting positive social, environmental, and economic impacts. By creating spaces for people to live, shop, work, and play, we aim to enrich the community landscape and expand the legacy of the university,” says the website.

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