UBC released a draft land use plan in April that proposes construction of up to 8 million square feet of new housing in the university neighbourhoods by 2050. The plan forecasts a population of more than 35,000, more than double UBC’s current residential population of 15,000.
The draft plan outlines the development of two new, densely built neighbourhoods at Acadia Park and Stadium Road, and the addition of a ring of towers on the southern edge of Wesbrook Place. The plan also designates at least 30 per cent of all neighbourhood housing as rental, with over half reserved for UBC staff and faculty.
The plan is the culmination of a two-year planning and consultation process known as Campus Vision 2050. UBC is now revising the plan for submission to the UBC Board of Governors this fall. If the board approves, there will be a public hearing before the plan goes to the provincial government, which ultimately is responsible for the adoption of any land use plan amendments.
The University Neighbourhoods Association (UNA) has undertaken its own consultations and raised concerns about the plan. In a May 2023 letter to the Board of Governors, the UNA objected to the lack of green space, not enough rental housing, and a sharp increase in building heights and densities.
A resident group, the UBC Communities for Sustainable Development, has called for stronger environmental protections, a priority for affordable housing, and representation for residents on the Board of Governors. The group has several outreach events planned in September.
Throughout the Campus Vision process, UBC has maintained that new leasehold housing is needed to raise funds to finance student housing, academic initiatives, and an extension of the Skytrain from Arbutus to the campus.
Many questions remain as UBC revises the plan for submission to the board. How much can and should UBC contribute toward the Skytrain extension? Given UBC’s status as a public institution, what role should it play in addressing the crisis of affordable housing in the Lower Mainland? Is selling off development rights to UBC land the most effective way to finance new student housing? What are the environment costs of dense and highrise development? What role should residents have in determining the shape of future development?
Residents can find more information on land use planning and advocacy at the UNA’s website.
EAGLE GLASSHEIM IS A MEMBER OF THE NEWSPAPER EDITORIAL COMMITTEE AND SITS ON THE UNA BOARD OF DIRECTORS.