Plan Approach

Why a Campus Plan?

Since its establishment on the present campus in 1952, Saint Mary’s has grown progressively, adding new buildings to respond to specific needs, but not as fast as enrolment and program growth. As a result, Saint Mary’s now operates with significantly less space resources than other Canadian institutions. Not only are academic programs and staff squeezed for space, but the University struggles to provide the collegial environment expected by the members of its community. As Saint Mary’s increasingly focuses on space consumptive research activities and graduate programs, and seeks to relieve current space pressures, it will seek to build new buildings and additions to existing facilities. In parallel, the campus planning process has identified the need for campus outdoor spaces that more strongly convey Saint Mary’s reputation for academic excellence and its aspirations for the future. The Campus Plan will facilitate these endeavours.

The Campus Plan's Approach

The Campus Plan does not prescribe growth, but guides the physical evolution of the Campus over the next ten to thirty years by identifying opportunities for new buildings and open spaces. The Campus Plan also provides design guidelines to improve the appearance and functionality of existing and future amenities and facilities on campus, including its gateways and edges. Instilling a sense of pride and the creation of “iconic spaces” will be a priority in the future growth of the Campus, as will be the continued peaceful cohabitation with adjacent residential neighbourhoods.

The 'Build Out' Scenario

Through the preparation of a "build out" scenario (a scenario in which theoretical development opportunities are maximized), the Campus Plan illustrates that the Saint Mary's campus, though limited in size, does not constitute an obstacle to orderly growth. The Plan provides a demonstration of how new buildings and additions can fit within the existing fabric of the campus, arranged within a hierarchy of an expanded open space network. The Plan also ensures that the Campus can remain easily accessible to its members and visitors.

A Foundation of Community Consultation

The Campus Plan was constructed on a foundation of community consultation. The input of members of the campus community and area residents was obtained through a variety of channels:

  • Individual interviews - representative members of staff, faculty, student government and campus service providers were interviewed.
  • Steering Committee Meetings - four meetings were held with the Steering Committee, which included a neighbourhood representative.
  • Workshop - participants actively debated key campus planning issues.
  • Open Houses - five open houses were held to show the evolving concept and receive feedback.
  • Website - the "Question of the Week" about the Campus Plan was immensely successful, with over 3,000 comments received in just over two months. The web site also provided updates on the planning process.


The following objectives were identified at the onset of the planning process:

  • To provide a growth framework to growth over the next ten to thirty years through recommendations for the placement of new buildings and facilities, and their relationship to campus open spaces.
  • To identify opportunities for high-quality open spaces.
  • To suggest strategies to address current parking issues and improve access to the Campus.
  • To guide the design of new buildings and additions to ensure that they fit within their environment and create safe and animated people-friendly spaces year-round.

Campus Master Plan main page


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