South Caswell Redevelopment
The City of Saskatoon’s transit buildings have been located on the same site in Caswell Hill since 1913. The transit system was originally made up of streetcars, which were gradually replaced by diesel buses and trolley buses between 1938-1951. Although the trolley buses were also phased out by 1974, the fleet of diesel buses continued to grow. Today, Saskatoon Transit has a fleet of 161 diesel buses – 101 are used on a daily basis. Over the years, the residential community surrounding the transit servicing garages witnessed many upgrades and expansions to the facility, and the amount of traffic and noise associated with operations has been an ongoing concern for residents.
In January 2017, Saskatoon Transit moved from their South Caswell location to the new Civic Operations Centre (COC) south of the City. The area is currently in transition as efforts are made to ensure the former Saskatoon Transit facilities/sites shift from a historic industrial area to a more compatible land use, while meeting the vision and goals of the South Caswell Concept Plan.
Caswell Hill Local Area Plan / South Caswell Concept Plan
Through the Caswell Hill Local Area Plan, adopted in 2001, residents established a number of future goals and recommendations for their neighbourhood, one being the redevelopment of the current transit facility site. In 2009, a Request for Proposals was released to undertake a design and community consultation process that would result in a redevelopment plan for the South Caswell area upon the relocation of the current transit facility and its operations. This South Caswell Concept Plan was approved by City Council in 2010 and it identified general land-use concepts for the current Saskatoon Transit sites, and included a general review of transportation, servicing, environmental and financial considerations that would be prompted by the redevelopment.
Environmental Site Assessment
A Phase I and Limited Phase II Environmental Assessment (ESA) was completed to investigate potential environmental impacts from the transit facilities. Soil and groundwater samples were collected and analyzed for contaminants related to current and historical bus maintenance activities and fuels. Laboratory analysis confirmed soil and water samples collected from the transit maintenance property located at 321 Avenue C North (north buildings) contained concentrations of contaminants above provincial and federal regulatory guidelines. A Limited Remedial Excavation was performed on a portion of the northeast transit staff parking lot, in response to impacted surficial soils.
To fully understand the onsite environmental risks, a detailed Phase II Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) began on all city-owned land in the South Caswell Redevelopment area in early 2017. A high level risk assessment and remediation alternative evaluation has also been requested by the Environmental Consultant. This information will assist in determining the future site use and redevelopment options of the former Transit facilities/sites going forward.
Environmental results and remediation options/alternatives are expected by April 2017.
An assessment of the structural conditions of all existing Saskatoon Transit buildings was undertaken to determine the potential for adaptive reuse of the buildings, or portions thereof. According to the analysis, the structural condition and reuse potential of the Saskatoon Transit buildings can be summarized as follows:
- Any reuse needs to meet the current Building Code (2010);
- Snow load requirements have increased substantially over the years;
- The buildings south of 24th Street were built in seven different stages;
- The evaluating engineer was of the opinion that extensive and costly modifications would be required to keep the southern portion, and as such, recommended demolition as being the most viable option for buildings south of 24th Street.
Expression of Interest
In October 2015 an Expression of Interest (EOI) was released as a method to gauge interest from the development community (given the sites’ opportunities and constraints), gauge the viability of adaptive re-use of existing buildings, explore ideas about land use mix, given the existing soil conditions and gauge compatibility with neighbouring uses.
The EOI demonstrated that there is interest in this area from the development community in Saskatoon. In general, the submissions proposed to redevelop the area in a mixed-use format with residential, commercial, community, open space, and employment uses. The EOI process highlighted the need for public funding to facilitate the redevelopment of the current transit facility site. There are considerable site preparation costs associated with the area, which will require public investment to make this a successful infill project. The EOI process also helped to identify multiple procurement options.
The EOI process closed in December 2015 and the City did not proceed with any proposals at this time. The City is currently reviewing funding options to address the preparation costs. Preparation costs will vary depending on how the land is eventually procured.
View the most recent Information Report to City Council here.
A Safety Walkabout has been organized for March 2, 2017, in partnership with the Caswell Hill Community Association. Community members and stakeholders are invited to take part in the Safety Walkabout to identify potential safety concerns and determine perception of safety of the area. The Safety Walkabout will review lighting, fencing, signage and evaluate potential hiding areas with participants. The information gathered during the walkabout will help determine if further steps need to be taken to help reduce the opportunity for crime to occur and improve the perception of safety in the area as it transitions to a future use.