March 3, 2023

Long-range plans for UCalgary’s Spyhill campus showcased at community open house

‘Protected and celebrated ecosystem’ touted in future vision for rural campus land
Spyhill campus showcased at community Open House
Community residents, key stakeholders, and the general public attend an open house at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine’s Spyhill campus. Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

An opportunity to provide feedback on the Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) for suburban UCalgary land containing veterinary medicine teaching facilities drew neighbours and stakeholders to an open house last week.

The Spyhill Campus LRDP outlines current use and future development proposals for the 143-acre site — offering a forward-looking framework for a vibrant and interdependent community of people, animals and plants that accommodates research and academic growth. Historically, UCalgary has occupied a portion of Spyhill lands since 1971 under a lease agreement with the provincial government, where it was permitted to use the land for the purposes of grazing, farming, crop sharing, and conducting research.

“We are in the process of drafting the LRDP, and these open houses are a critical part of consultations — it’s a chance to gather input and feedback, people’s thoughts and initial reactions,” says Boris Dragicevic, associate vice-president, facilities development at UCalgary.

“This consultation is about being a good neighbour and listening to the ideas and concerns of stakeholders.”

Cohesive campus respects the landscape

Unlike more rigorous geometric campus planning approaches, future development sites respond to the existing unique typography and surface drainage patterns to create a protected and celebrated ecosystem. The Spyhill LRDP, which was explained and illustrated through a series of boards with various graphics and text at the Feb. 22 event, creates a cohesive campus that respects the unique rural landscape of this site.

Guided by the UCalgary’s Indigenous Strategy, ii' taa'poh'to'p, the Spyhill LRDP started with a gathering of Knowledge Keepers who held a pipe ceremony at the Spyhill campus in November. Willow branches and stones from the ceremony are being displayed at the open houses, with the first open house held last week and another to be held April 27.

Veterinary growth on horizon

The Spyhill campus is currently home to UCalgary’s High Density Library and the Veterinary Medicine Clinical Skills Building as well as various research initiatives. Plans for the site include an expansion of the veterinary medicine’s clinical and diagnostic learning capabilities, as part of a $59-million provincial investment to address a critical shortage of vets in Alberta.

“The expansion of our program is a direct response to an urgent shortage of veterinarians in Alberta, and the development plans for this campus will allow us to double the number of students enrolling in the faculty,” says Dr. Renate Weller, dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM).

As Alberta’s only veterinary school, UCVM currently accepts 50 students per year — and it’s hoped the expansion will help alleviate a shortage the Alberta Veterinary Medicine Association has described as a “near crisis.”

Public consultation and engagement continues

The consultation process is guided by the existing Campus Forward Consultation Framework, and is inclusive and respectful of surrounding community members, campus constituents, the local Indigenous communities, and other stakeholder views.

The LRDP process for the Spyhill campus will continue with further public consultation and engagement with key stakeholders, including with host municipalities and neighbours located within 60 metres of the Spyhill campus lands. Feedback received at the open houses will be posted on the Spyhill LRDP consultation website. Additionally, UCalgary is collecting feedback from campus members and community members through an online survey.

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