There’s long been talk about one day moving city buses out of the century-old bus barns in Caswell Hill and into a brand new state-of-the art facility.
Saskatoon Transit workers were told Tuesday they can start looking forward to that day – coming in mid-January.
Construction on the new Civic Operations Centre (COC) wrapped two weeks ahead of schedule. The impressive facility is capable of housing 224 buses indoors and is located near the city landfill, just southwest of Saskatoon.
Mayor Charlie Clark called the new facility a model of innovation and efficiency.
“The lights are on sensors, so they not sitting on all night if there’s no one in the building. The water that is going to be used to wash all of the buses will all be recycled and reused again,” Clark said.
Clark noted the modern facility represents the beginning of a new era for public transit in Saskatoon.
“It really brings transit into the 21st century in Saskatoon and makes it a much more significant part of our transportation system. Not the part of transportation system that is last to be considered,” Clark said.
Today, the first bus drove into the new Civic Operations Centre. We will be in full operation in January. pic.twitter.com/gfzII0GIUS
— Saskatoon Transit (@stoontransit) December 13, 2016
The building’s design will allow for a fleet expansion over the next decade.
As for the old bus barns, the city is still working on a plan.
Without getting into specifics, Clark said the administration is looking at different possibilities to make sure the site doesn’t sit empty and vacant. He noted it doesn’t have to be “a master plan,” but rather could be phased plan to ensure the barns are used during the interim.
Snow to be managed in new facility
On Tuesday, the city also unveiled its first permanent Snow Management facility, adjacent to the COC. It’s large enough to hold 1,000,000 cubic metres of snow on a 14-acre concrete pad – the equivalent amount of snow removed from Saskatoon streets during one winter.
When the snow melts naturally, the water will run through an oil and grit separator and into a melt storm water pond.
The melt water will then go through a series of specially designed baffle curtains before being discharged in a controlled fashion into the storm water system.
The city’s general manager of transportation and utilities, Jeff Jorgenson, said the snow dump site might even have some uses through the summer.
“I’ve heard people talk about floor hockey and roller hockey and that type of thing. When you get that kind of vast pad, there’s going to be some kind of opportunity that people might want to use,” Jorgenson said.