Introduction

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So much has changed since the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) officially opened its doors over a half-century ago. We have more students, more research initiatives and more clinical services — nearly every aspect of the college has grown to the point where we no longer have enough room to keep up with the rising demands.

Many parts of the original WCVM building need to be modernized and renewed. Existing classrooms need technological upgrades while new classroom space 
 needs to be built to accommodate simulation and other specialized activities.

There’s also a growing need for more flexible teaching spaces, more multi-user research laboratories and expanded clinical spaces. In addition, the existing WCVM building has infrastructure issues that need to be addressed.

But even if we could start making changes tomorrow, what would that look like? What would be the priorities?

To ensure that we make the best decisions for the college’s future and that we’re ready to take advantage of any new funding opportunities, we need to have an infrastructure and space master plan in place.

The college has established a team to develop a comprehensive WCVM building master plan that aligns with the WCVM Strategic Plan, which is part of the University of Saskatchewan’s long-term planning process. The WCVM’s Master Plan will help to direct and guide the future use and expansion of the veterinary college’s space as we develop priorities to accommodate our research, academic, clinical and administrative needs.

Goals

  • Inform future capital-related decisions as well as to highlight the medium- and long-term needs of WCVM and its partners.
  • Ensure that the WCVM continues to meet or exceed accreditation standards.
  • Better align institutional, college and facilities designated resources.
  • Create a model for prioritizing space and capital decision making.
  • Review and understand current space allocation and use.

Planning steps

What have we done?

Assessment

  • The team developed an infrastructure risk assessment based on data from a building conditions assessment, which was formed by Infrastructure Planning and Land Development. The assessment identifies low-, medium- and high-risk items that show end-of-lifecycle dates in the next decade.
  • The team created a comprehensive “snapshot” of the building’s occupants, along with a current space audit showing the functions of the college by occupant and department. This information helped the team to develop a diagram that describes the space allocation split for the college by type and occupant.

Consultation

During the fall of 2019, the USask Social Sciences Research Laboratories (SSRL) carried out a series of focus group meetings. Members of each small focus group consisted of WCVM faculty and staff as well as undergraduate and graduate students.

The focus groups gave people a chance to:

  • highlight specific needs of various areas in the college
  • discuss general space concerns and capital needs
  • envision facility and infrastructure needs and to talk about changes for future development

All of the participants’ suggestions, ideas and feedback have been collected in a report that will help to inform future design discussions and final recommendations.

The Master Plan team members also held informal discussions with groups of people representing organizations and committees that are based in the college.

What have we learned so far?

Based on these consultations, we have identified four common “areas of need” or themes:

1. WCVM community members are united in their need for space and their use of space. The college has a general need for more flexible space that multiple users can use for multiple purposes.

2. We need to examine specific college spaces and facilities more closely, exploring potential areas of need and alternative uses of space.

3. We need to further investigate the specific needs of functional groups in the college. These groups include undergraduate students, teaching faculty, research teams, clinical and community services, staff and administration, and animals.

4. The WCVM needs to address emerging topics in relation to broader university policies and practices. These efforts will ensure that the WCVM is aligned with USask capital processes and funding opportunities.

What's next?

Team members will work on the next steps that are based on feedback and insights gathered through consultation and guided by the overall plans and goals of the WCVM and USask.

  • Suggest possible projects informed by ideas and concepts gathered during the consultations.
  • Launch a “capital intake” model for use by WCVM departments.
  • Work with college leaders to identify and develop a priority model for informing decisions.
  • Conduct a gap analysis of the WCVM’s space functions to identify areas where we can improve operational efficiency.

Survey

If you wish to share your ideas about the WCVM's future infrastructure needs, we want to hear from you! Please click the button below and fill out our anonymous survey.

Your suggestions and feedback will help to enrich our team's discussions about the next steps for the college's infrastructure plans.