In what is being called a major boost for Prince Albert, the North and the University of Saskatchewan (U of S), a new multi-program campus is coming to the city.
The U of S announced they are to house all their various program locations under one roof at the Forestry Centre building on Central Avenue. The university purchased the site from the public Saskatchewan Opportunities Corporation as part of an $8 million deal.
“It’s very exciting for us, for Prince Albert and the province,” U of S president Peter Stoicheff told paNOW. “We have had a presence in P.A. for a long time but the programs have been scattered across different venues.”
Stoicheff called the arrangement not financially efficient because of the large rental outlay and those venues also don’t allow the university to grow and change in response to demands. Hence the move to acquire the two-storey, 110,000-square-foot space opposite city hall.
The building will be renovated by the fall of 2020 to include new classrooms, labs, offices and common gathering areas. Existing tenants in the building will remain in the short term offering an ongoing revenue stream for the university.
The institution currently has 324 students enrolled over its various sites in Prince Albert and almost half of those students are Indigenous.
Stoicheff said he was confident student numbers can only grow with the new campus.
“P.A. is growing, the population of the North is growing and so is Saskatoon,” he said. “So we know the student demand is there and we’ve had insufficient facilities to provide for that increased demand.”
He said now the building has been purchased they’ll start consultations on what sort of extra programming to provide. Dentistry is already on the cards but there will be other extras in addition to arts and science, nursing and medicine.
“Dentistry will be something of real significance to Prince Albert and the North,” Stoicheff said.
Boost for city and downtown
Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne said he was delighted with the news adding the acquisition of the forestry building is a major boost.
“Two to three hundred people coming every day to the downtown will be an obvious benefit to coffee shops, merchants, everything," he said.
He added the renovations to the building would bring benefits, too.
“It’ll be local contractors plus they’ll need supplies and services and I’m quite sure they’ll be going to local businesses for those, too. The spin-off on this is just plus, plus, plus,” Dionne said.
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