Recent Campus Planning Initiatives

There have been some recent initiatives toward comprehensive University planning, including the St. George Campus Master Plan and the City of Toronto Part II Plan for the University of Toronto Area. Both documents set a policy framework for planning the buildings and grounds of the St. George Campus and include policies on landscape design and the revitalization of campus open spaces, landmark features, points of entry, streetscapes and pedestrian networks.

A policy framework, however, is not enough to effect change. Targeted action and a new way of thinking are needed.

Part of the new thinking is a recognition that strong open space design and management is a good long term investment. In the past few years, the University of Toronto has engaged in considerable discussion about its physical environment and the importance of its relationship to the University's academic and social environment. The campus is the centre of a great many people's lives and its landscape has significant impact on those who live, study, work and pass by the University. It conveys vital messages about what the University is, it facilitates or frustrates social contact and communication, it influences first impressions and can aid greatly in student and faculty recruitment.

A recent University document, Raising Our Sights, demonstrates the new thinking. It attempts to strategically position the University's downtown and suburban campuses into the next round of academic planning. It notes that the University of Toronto's large commuter population poses challenges to fostering the type of campus life that enhances student experience and creates a sense of community on the University campuses. It recognizes the need to provide more opportunities for students to be resident on campus and to become fully involved in campus life. This requires the provision of high-quality open spaces for student gatherings, recreation, and contemplation, to create vibrant and lively places. Raising Our Sights endorses the University's initiative to repair and revitalize the open spaces of the St. George Campus.

The flip side of the new thinking is targeted action. The St. George Street revitalization is a recent action that has made an enormous difference to the campus landscape. With help from a generous private donation and the City of Toronto, this very successful project created a new balance between pedestrians, bicycles and cars on a functional and attractive street. The St. George Street project opened people's eyes to the opportunities to enhance open spaces elsewhere on the campus. It helped to spread the new way of thinking about living and learning on the campus to the entire University of Toronto community and led to a broad awareness of the importance of the campus open spaces and their ability to improve quality of life.

The City's Part II Plan sets out a policy framework for comprehensive planning of the University district.


The St. George Street revitalization was a targeted action that made an enormous difference to the campus landscape.

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