Affectionately known as the “Back 40” or the “West 40,” the lands to the west of the main campus had remained untouched since the University first started development. Originally the lands were known as the Higher Education Reserve and had been acquired by the Province of Alberta; the then Minister of Public Works held title to the land until such time as a specific use was determined. The land title was transferred to the University of Calgary in 1980.
The Higher Education Reserve Lands later became known as the West Campus. The University recognized the high value that the area represented in planning for future needs and responsibilities including instructional, research, and service programs. Over the years, numerous consultations were held, planning programs and designs were considered, and development and concepts were reviewed. The West Campus lands totaled 183 acres, although slightly less than that was viable for development due to topography. However, the opportunities for development and growth were significant.
By 2001, consultation, planning and discussions had resulted in the West Campus Land Development and Concept Plan which identified the location for the new Alberta Children’s Hospital on the site. The remaining West Campus lands were to be maintained for future development as a “vibrant sustainable community of scholars, students, researchers and practitioners in the fields of health and wellness, energy, transportation, information and communication technology, and other as yet undefined opportunities.
The ground breaking for the Alberta Children’s Hospital took place in September 2002.