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 The transit system was originally made up of streetcars, which were gradually replaced by diesel buses and trolley buses between 1938-1951.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
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 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 was also completed by the Environmental Consultant based on potential land uses for the area. Environmental results, remediation options and risk management alternatives were provided in June 2017 by the Environmental Consultant.
The results of the 2017 detailed Phase II ESA determined there was no contamination risk at 301 24th Street West, 230 230 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 former staff parking lot and in the corner of the north parcel occurred. A Groundwater Vapour Well Monitoring Program has also commenced on the sites and will continue for up to two years, or until the City-owned sites are sold for redevelopment.
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.
The Roadways and Operations Division is currently using the bus barns for passive storage for heavy equipment over the winter, until March 2018. It is undetermined at this time if staff would be relocated to the administrative offices.
The next step in the South Caswell Redevelopment Project is to determine a sale process for the City-owned properties. Saskatoon Land will be leading this next phase, and the Planning and Development Division will assist by developing zoning and development standards that meet the community values and vision for the area, as outlined in the 2010 South Caswell Concept Plan. The timing of when the City-owned sites could be sold is yet undetermined, as it will be dependent on the sale option that is supported going forward.