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Saskatoon operations building goes green, expands transit

Warren Frey
Saskatoon operations building goes green, expands transit
KRISTOPHER GRUNERT/GRUNERT IMAGING — The Saskatoon Civic Operations Centre combines a storage and maintenance facility for Saskatoon’s fleet of buses with the city’s first snow management facility. The contractor for the project was EllisDon and the architect was Kasian.

An ambitious new city facility in Saskatoon, Sask. aims to keep the city green for the next generation.

The Saskatoon Civic Operations Centre merges Saskatoon Transit and the city’s first snow management facility into one large complex. The project is the city of Saskatoon’s first public-private partnership (P3) project. EllisDon was the contractor and Kasian Architecture designed the project. 

The LEED certified transit facility is part of the city’s green initiative, which seeks to limit the use of automobiles by making public transit a more appealing option and necessitated the expansion of the bus fleet.

The facility, located at the southwestern edge of Saskatoon, covers 180 acres of land and features a snow melting area that can process one million cubic metres of snow on a five-and-a-half-hectare concrete pad. An earth berm separates the nearby CN railway line from the Montgomery Place neighbourhood.

“To provide a unified design, public access and administrative functions are articulated in a human scale with lots of windows along the eastern interface of the building; it is from the east that one approaches the facility from Saskatoon,” said Kasian senior project architect Barbara Budenz. “The larger vehicle-oriented spaces are located beyond the administration cluster where they are less visible to the public. The delineation of administrative and vehicular functions has also assisted in keeping public and secure zones separate.”

The centre provides indoor bus storage for up to 224 regular and articulated buses as well as quick service, fuelling and wash lanes. The building also has a maintenance shop with 27 bays with built-in and mobile hoists, inspection pits, and transmission, machine and electronics shops as well as exterior bus staging areas.

Design of the building kept in mind the different needs of the vehicular and administrative sections of the building, and attempted to make the transition from one to the other as seamless as possible, explained Budenz.

“Within the building, spaces transition from quiet office zones along the east to areas such as the fitness room, locker rooms and other support spaces to serve as a buffer between office and vehicular functions. Significant attention was paid to acoustic considerations, and the wall dividing vehicle and administrative functions is rated at STC 70,” Budenz said.

She characterized the Snow Management Facility as “complex and high tech.”

“Trucks arrive at the facility, are checked and dump snow. Snow is then moved, compiled, compacted and held on the pad. At present the snow on the site is compacted to a height of 3.5 metres. As the weather warms, the snow melts and flows into the meltwater pond,” she said.

The pond is designed to collect litter and settle coarse sediment, while a larger secondary pond settles finer particles.

“It’s designed to avoid salt stratification and also for the potential for higher releases during wet weather flows. The outlet is controlled to regulate the release to the receiving storm sewer,” Budenz said.

With so many vehicles and other heavy equipment onsite, security was also a concern.

“A key component of the project was to incorporate successful CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) principles throughout the facility,” Budenz said.

“Meetings were held with the City of Saskatoon to receive input from various stakeholders and ‘safe design’ elements have been incorporated both within the buildings and across the entire site. This includes attention to sight lines, lighting, controlled access, surveillance and extensive recording and alarm systems.”

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