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U of G eyes new look

It’s been said that the only thing constant in life is change, and this certainly seems to apply to the University of Guelph – judging by the new campus master plan that’s getting close to being finalized.
The university’s roots go back to 1874, when the Ontario School of Agriculture was founded on a 500-acre farm that was outside the City of Guelph. In 1882, a master plan for OAC was developed that established a street network and development framework for academic facilities at OAC, all organized around Johnston Green. Today, of course, the U of G campus is pretty close to the centre of the city. And with major city roads running through and near it, a lot of its physical changes are witnessed by drivers. One recent such change is the demolition of some old houses along Gordon Street on campus, as shown in the Then & Now feature on this page.
The current version of the new master plan (which can be viewed at www.uoguelphcmp.com) includes a lot of detail, as might be expected. It even has colour-coded charts showing what might be the fate of various buildings on campus. Buildings shown in blue are expected to continue current or similar uses; those in orange, including many historic facilities, might be converted from intensive academic uses to other uses; and those shown in red might be demolished to allow for more intensive development.
The new master plan, which is technically an update of the university’s 2002 master plan, comes at an interesting time when the administration isn’t expecting significant enrolment growth in coming years. That’s a stark contrast to 2002, when enrolment was headed upwards fast. It also contrasts with the previous big planning exercise done in 1964, when a long-range development plan coincided with the creation of the U of G.
The university says a campus master plan update is a significant milestone in the U of G’s evolution. It allows for a re-examination of directions for physical changes at the university to support its academic goals, while also enhancing the campus experience. It’s meant to “establish a campus development framework that can accommodate growth but does not rely on growth, ensuring the university is prepared for the future, however uncertain.”
Given how critically important the U of G is to Guelph, the master plan is something that concerns us all.

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