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 The transit system was originally made up of streetcars, which were gradually replaced by diesel buses and trolley buses between 1938-1951.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. The 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
In 2014, Phase I and Limited Phase II Environmental Assessment (ESA) were 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 at 321 Avenue C North contained concentrations of contaminants above provincial and federal regulatory guidelines. A Limited Remedial Excavation was performed on a portion of the northeast 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 was also completed by the Environmental Consultant based on potential land uses for the area.
The results of the detailed Phase II ESA determined there was no contamination risk at 301 24th Street West, 230 Avenue C North, or 316 Avenue C North. Soil samples exceeded the residential criteria for lead at 232 Avenue C North and 321 Avenue C North, and for petroleum hydrocarbons at 321 Avenue C North. A Risk Assessment and Corrective Action Plan was prepared for the impacts for 232 Avenue C North and 321 Avenue C North.
In December 2017, further environmental testing (vapour well installation and monitoring) and remediation of lead impacts in limited areas of the sites occurred.
The City began further work in February 2020 to remove existing hydraulic lifts/hoists within the former Saskatoon Transit Maintenance Facility (321 Avenue C North) and to remediate contaminated soils related to the lifts. Remediation of other impacted areas will take place as redevelopment of the site proceeds.
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.
Saskatoon Land is undertaking a phased approach to the sale of City-owned land within the SCCP area. In October 2018, a Request for Proposal for the sale of 321 Avenue C North was released with evaluation criteria aligned with the goals and intent of the SCCP. Saskatoon Land has been in negotiations with the highest scored Proponent and expect to have a report to the Standing Policy Committee on Finance in April 2020 regarding the sale.