Aurora College is proposing that the area of Tin Can Hill be the new location for the Polytechnic Campus in Yellowknife.

In the Governance and Priorities Committee (GPC) agenda on the subject, the following was written to describe why Tin Can Hill was a prime location for the college, as well as the City itself.

“The Tin Can Hill location is being proposed given it meets Aurora College’s interests in a land parcel that can meet institutional needs now and into the future,” read the agenda. “This location also meets the City’s interests in that it is adjacent to downtown, aligns with the Community Plan’s criteria for densification and use of existing services, aligns with direction that any future post-secondary institution locate in the Downtown, integrates with the community, can include ongoing public access to trails on the campus and provides an opportunity to advance reconciliation.”

However, before any work can be done on the campus or further conversations can take place, the City needs to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

City councillors heard from Chris Joseph, the assistant deputy minister of post secondary education renewal for the Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE), on the proposed location and possibility of entering into an MOU.

“We want the Campus itself to be close enough that students are there as part of the student life,” Chris Joseph, the assistant deputy minister of post secondary education renewal for the Department of Education, Culture and Employment said during the presentation. “They can walk back home if they’re renting space on campus, they can go and get food downtown or use banking services and all the things they need to be a functional students.”

In terms of overall size, Joseph brought forward that the polytechnic university is “in the vicinity of 25,000 square meters”, where as the area of Tin Can Hill provides a total space of 300,000 square meters.

Councillor reactions

Several councillors offered their thoughts following the presentation, Shauna Morgan thought the new space, if done correctly, could be “an amazing opportunity.”

“All kind of things could grow around this opportunity if it’s done in the right way,” she said.

Councillor Julian Morse commented on the newtork of trails in the area of Tin Can Hill and what that would look like moving forward.

“… one of the few areas where people can walk their dogs off-leash with close proximity to the downtown,” he said.

However, overall Morse responded to the presentation with enthusiam, saying “it’s very exciting.”

Mayor Rebecca Alty considered the new campus to be a service of sorts as the current location of the old campus is one that is of a questionable nature.

“I think that’s a disservice to our northern residents,” she said.

All in all, the MOU will (according the GPC agenda) “[confirm] shared interests” between the Government of the Northwest Territories and the City of Yellowknife to begin exploration regarding the establishing of a polytechinc university campus.

“While recognizing due process, including adhering to land use requirements that must be met, as per the Community Planning and Development Act, the City’s Community Plan, the Zoning By-law and the Land Administration By-law,” the agenda continues.

Joseph stated during his presentation that development on the campus could begin as early as 2024.

There is currently no assessment for enviornmental impact.

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