Mayor Greg Dionne says he plans to bring a request to council for specialized parking access to the new downtown University of Saskatchewan campus.
Dionne made the announcement after meeting with Dr. Doug Brothwell, the dean at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Dentistry, in Saskatoon on Feb. 13. The goal is to create five designated stalls specifically for clients of the expanded dentistry program scheduled to start at the campus this fall.
“During the meeting I asked them, okay, what are the challenges?” Dionne said during an interview on Tuesday. “Of course, the challenge they have is getting the patients there.”
Dionne described the Feb. 13 meeting as a “great and positive” one that will help the city prepare for future growth. He said current programs, like Seniors Transportation, will help getting patients to the downtown campus, as will running a city bus route to that location. The new stalls are designed to provide even more accessibility.
“I was excited because this is the second program that is expanding and the campus isn’t open yet,” Dionne said. “It echoes what the (U of S) president said on the sign unveiling, that he believed in two years we’d have double the enrolment. Now I understand why, because they continue to look at programs that will benefit the community.”
Details surrounding the Prince Albert campus’ dentistry program have yet to be finalized, but Dionne said they’re preparing for seven chairs which will allow low-income residents to receive dental care from students in the final year of study. Instructors and faculty members will be on hand to supervise the process.
The University of Saskatchewan already has a similar program set up in Saskatoon called DIRECT Dental, which provided emergency treatment to those who cannot receive it from a private practice due to dental constraints. Dionne has one more meeting scheduled with university representatives before the campus opens. Doug Brothwell was unavailable for comment on Tuesday.
The University of Saskatchewan already has between 300 to 400 students taking classes in Prince Albert. During a visit to Prince Albert last April, university president Peter Stoicheff said they anticipated that number would grow by the time they opened in 2020.
Dionne’s parking proposal is just one of two new developments to come out of Thursday’s meeting. The City also hopes to partner with the U of S and Public Health Services to have students conducting studies and reports about health care in Prince Albert. Those future partnerships would look similar to the Downtown Waterfront Planning session that was held at City Hall on Feb. 5.
Dionne said city council will have to set the direction for that partnership by asking for specific studies in specific areas. Those discussions have not taken place yet.
The mayor added that he’s grateful for any future partnerships, and would be open to having U of S students study any aspect of public health in Prince Albert. However, he’s hoping to see more studies done on addictions in the community.
“We know it’s there, but we don’t know how big or small it is,” he said.
The next Prince Albert city council meeting is scheduled for Feb. 24.