Planning a university district in Abbotsford

In future years, back to school will not only bring the University of the Fraser Valley to life, but September will spark up a new commercial hub in Abbotsford.

A conceptual illustration shows how King Road

In future years, back to school will not only bring the University of the Fraser Valley to life, but September will spark up a new commercial hub in Abbotsford.

The creation of a university district is still in its conceptual stages, but a formal plan is nearing completion.

It will be before Abbotsford council for adoption in late September or early October, said Jay Teichroeb, the city’s general manager of economic development and planning.

He called the proposed university district an “area in transition,” where older, “low-intensity industrial uses” will eventually give way to services aimed at university students and faculty.

“We are needing to set out a vision, and a direction for the private sector,” said Teichroeb, noting the development will likely take 25 years to reach fruition.

“If we do our job well, it will capture the public desire for the area.”

UFV students have become involved in researching the project, working with city and university planners.

“The students really got a tremendous amount of feedback from the student population out there,” said Teichroeb. “They were fully engaged.”

Craig Toews, the UFV director of campus planning, explained that fourth-year geography students took part in a one-day charrette, a condensed design exercise.

Students also conducted surveys about transit and housing needs, and what amenities university students want to see around their campus.

Toews said the work has led to presentations to the UFV board and senior city staff, but a final document outlining their findings is still being prepared.

He said the university population wants restaurants, salons, pharmacies, health services and a broad range of businesses.

“They’re looking for food services and amenities close in the area, so they don’t have to get in their cars and drive for everything.”

Housing was also identified as a priority. Students want housing that is both affordable and located “just off campus,” so it is not subject to the same rules and regulations as on-campus housing, which is shared accommodation, with private bedrooms but shared bathrooms and common areas.

UFV got its first dormitory in 2006, with 204 beds. Toews estimates the university will eventually need to build a total of 500 on-campus beds, and there should be approximately 2,000 affordable housing beds near the campus.

Developers have yet to be formally involved in planning, but Toews envisions multi-storey buildings on King Road and in the vicinity that have street-level commercial spaces with low-cost student housing above, and the potential for market housing (not targeted to students) on the uppermost levels.

He said the university district is vital to the institution, and planners have looked at the areas surrounding Simon Fraser University, the University of Washington and other schools.

“Life on campus is important to the university experience, and to learning outcomes actually,” said Toews.

He sees the city ultimately benefiting from a major commercial node, and those business people who invest in the area will enjoy a “captive audience of 12,000 students, right across the street.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

WEATHER: Strong winds, heavy rainfall and risk of a thunderstorm forecasted for Langley

Special weather statement is in effect for Metro Vancouver, including Langley

First rainstorm of the season pelting the Lower Mainland

Batten down the hatches as heavy rains, wind, and some localized flooding possible

Volunteers needed to help make Aldergrove shine

Business association will host downtown clean up day and will survey owners and residents on Oct. 3

UPDATE: Teen missing since early Monday in Langley has been found

Police released information about a 14-year-old girl who has been found safe

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

Abbotsford youth launches mental health awareness page

Abby Senior student Mia Skoone aims to provide information with @mentalhealth4youth account

RCMP investigating man reportedly hiking nude on Summerland’s Full Frontal trail

Potential charges against the man could include indecent exposure.

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Grand jury indicts police officer in Breonna Taylor death

Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Most Read