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Letter: Abandoned Sask. Hospital site should be future home of North West College

The redevelopment of the old Sask. Hospital grounds into a post-secondary educational institution for the community would be a lasting legacy for the future.
old shnb power house smoke stack AJ
The site of the now-demolished oringial Saskatchewan Hospital would be a good site for the new North West College, says author of letter.

Dear Editor

I was excited to recently read about the plans for North West College to build a new campus somewhere in the Battlefords. I also recently read a previous Letter to the Editor by Bill Strong from 2021 (A Dream for SHNB) that shared a similar idea. I want to throw my support behind it. With the demolition of the old Saskatchewan Hospital last summer, I hope that serious thought is being given to use the old Sask. Hospital site as the future campus of North West College. 

The mature trees, large flattened grounds, existing road access, ample parking, and an already serviced area make the site immediately suitable as the future home of North West College. Further, the site would provide significant opportunity for growth as North West College expands and offers more programs to people in the region over the decades ahead. The site’s closeness to Saskatchewan Hospital, Drumming Hill Youth Centre, and businesses in the industrial area would allow for partnerships in practicum work, on-the-job training, internships, and other areas. 

The east end of the city is also a beautiful location for a post-secondary campus. The area would be well suited to building residences for students in the future, and its site on the North Saskatchewan River would be one befitting a post-secondary educational institution. The immediate site could also become more developed on the riverfront with the opportunity to build some paved trails for walking, wheelchairs, and as bike paths. 

It would also be an area where the exploration of future partnerships with the First Nations University of Canada (FNUC) could be undertaken, given the young local population of Indigenous people in and around the Battlefords. Our public Battlefords Transit system could be appropriately expanded to increase linkages between the campus and existing housing in the Battlefords for post-secondary students visiting to complete educational programs in the community. 

The recent vacancy of the old Sask. Hospital site and the coincidental plans for a new North West College campus is a lucky opportunity to make use of an already developed site for a positive public purpose. A campus on that now-empty site could establish a strong foundation for the growth of post-secondary education within the Battlefords for decades into the future. 

I hope that the City of North Battleford, Town of Battleford, North West College, First Nations University of Canada, First Nations governments in the region, and other stakeholders will strongly consider the redevelopment of the old Sask. Hospital grounds into a post-secondary educational institution for the community — now and as a lasting legacy for the future.

Bradley Wilson

Red Deer, Alta.