UBC signals plans for larger Fraser Valley presence with acquisition of Surrey site

UBC will develop the site into a residential and commercial complex and use the money raised to pay for the construction of academic facilities at the Surrey site.

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The University of BC’s acquisition of a prime location in Surrey signals its plans for a larger presence in the Fraser Valley, but there are no immediate plans for a complete satellite campus.


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President Santa Ono said the development of the nearly 70-acre property of $ 70 million will give UBC a better opportunity to serve thousands of its students, who are already studying and coaching in the region.

“It’s just really clear from our analysis that there is huge demand,” Ono said.

About 5,100 students, mostly in medicine or other health sciences, are already studying or training in Surrey, as well as about 200 nurses and 100 pharmaceutical science students, he said.

“UBC Okanagan campus (s) have about 10,000 students,” Ono said. “So when you have 5,100 students in Surrey, there is already quite a significant presence.”

In addition to the medical and healthcare professions, “it is very possible that other faculties may be interested in providing either courses or micro-credentials” from the newly acquired Surrey website, Ono said.


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“We have 3,500 students who commute to UBC every day from Surrey. About 750 faculties and staff live in Surrey. So we have over 4,000 people moving back and forth. It’s pretty far away.

“For the faculty and for the students, it would be very attractive. If you are thinking of a first- or second-year course that has many sections, (such as) chemistry, economics or English literature – very large classes. You can imagine that if you look at any of the classes, a session or two could be Surrey students. It may be possible for them, instead of coming (to the main campus) at. 8 for teaching and had to leave home at. 5:30, just to take that class in Surrey. It would really dramatically improve their quality of life. ”

“I would say that the first conversations, not about this site, but about a major presence in Surrey began almost six years ago when I arrived at UBC,” Ono said. “In addition to officials and health officials, countless students, faculty and community members in Surrey have demanded more of a significant UBC presence in Fraser Valley.”


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Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus opened in 2006, but it started with a smaller space in the Central City Mall in 2002. It now serves over 8,000 full-time and part-time students.

The acquisition of the centrally located property at King George Boulevard and Fraser Highway will also allow UBC to develop rental housing and condominiums in a fast-growing region, he said.

The proceeds from these assets will be used to build academic facilities for programs and research in Surrey. The same strategy has been used for years on UBC’s Point Gray campus on the west side of Vancouver, as well as at major universities like Harvard and Johns Hopkins, Ono said.

UBC President and Vice Chancellor Santa Ono.
UBC President and Vice Chancellor Santa Ono. Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /PNG

He hinted at further plans in Surrey, adding: “There are other properties available. We may be buying another property nearby, but we have not made any final decisions on that.”


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There are concept illustrations, but no details on exactly how much and what to build on the new site in Surrey. It has an estimated value of $ 34.7 million and is currently owned by Grace Hanin Community Church.

“Faculties and staff want to live close to where they teach and work. And it is really useful for the financial model to build mixed-use developments. Then there are revenues that can actually offset the cost of building the academic spaces.

“We have a lot of experience with it on the Point Gray campus, where there are rentals and also condominiums.”

Ono said UBC is currently planning a mixed-use development with academic space, rented office space and university rental housing in downtown Kelowna, for example.


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