UNB looks to develop commercial properties on Saint John campus
University would focus on potential proposals for health-sector businesses
The University of New Brunswick could be soliciting proposals for commercial development on its Saint John campus before the end of the year.
A university spokesperson said UNB is looking at developing property between the campus and the Saint John Regional Hospital.
I guess what I'd like to argue and [I'm] trying to say is: Let's get on with really trying to make the campus in Saint John a really exciting place.- Eddy Campbell, UNB president
"We envision health-related uses, such as doctor's offices and other medical-related facilities," said David Stonehouse.
In an interview Thursday, University of New Brunswick president Eddy Campbell said he'd like to make it possible for commercial properties to open shop on the Saint John campus.
Part of new vision
Campbell said his idea is in keeping with a vision held by the late Tom Condon, the vice-president of the Saint John campus from 1977 to 1988.
"He, I'm told, articulated a vision for the campus as a kind of village, where you could not only go to work and to learn, but you could also perhaps live and play there," Campbell said. "I'm really taken by this idea."
He has already shared his vision for the satellite campus with the board of governors through an emailed letter.
While the primary goal is to double enrolment to 4,000 students from 2,000 — primarily by focusing on graduate programs — the letter says the school is "exploring the opportunity to generate new revenues through the development of commercial real estate."
It doesn't specify what types of properties might be considered, but it does mention creating a new health research institute and rebuilding the Ward Chipman Library.
"Given that there have been people in and around the university and the hospital who have been talking about the potential of commercial real estate to be developed on the campus in Saint John, I'm quite interested in pursuing that opportunity as a way of making the campus all the more attractive place to be," Campbell said.
Stonehouse cautioned that the university is still in the early stages of pursuing the possibility of commercial development.
Campbell pointed to the short and long-term visions for the Saint John campus that were approved by UNB's board of governors in 2004.
The long-term vision is supposed to guide the school over the next "30, 50 or even 100 years" and calls for examining possible expansion into northwest and northeast parts of the campus.
A separate document describes a "University Village," calling for a "mix of uses including residential, a senior life lease community, hotel and conference facilities."
"All of these are in the long-term vision for Saint John," Campbell said. "I guess what I'd like to argue and [I'm] trying to say is: Let's get on with really trying to make the campus in Saint John a really exciting place."