Date Posted: September 26, 2011
Print Edition: September 21, 2011
Owing to the many responsibilities and obligations most students have in addition to their university studies, they cannot be blamed for not having the time to invest in UFV’s many student activities and programs. However, in March of this year a group of fourth-year geography students put together what Paul Falardeau, former Arts and Life editor of The Cascade, called “a wildly successful student event.” The event was hosted at UFV’s student-run restaurant – formerly known as Casey’s on Campus – and it was intended to educate and collect feedback from UFV students regarding the vision of a university-focused area in Abbotsford. The idea was marketed as a ‘U-District’.
Over 300 people attended the information session regarding the U-District. The only conclusion that can be drawn if this many busy individuals took the time to show up is that UFV students are very interested in the U-District. They aren’t the only ones interested, either.
Shortly after the meeting, the involved students presented the feedback they received to UFV’s planning committee, explained Craig Toews – UFV director of campus planning. The students also presented their own research into the U-District model. Toews said the students provided the committee with “concrete ideas that shaped a vision piece to take the idea to the community.”
“It’s an exciting piece to be involved in,” he also stated, noting that the project is “incredibly integral” to the growth of UFV.
Toews explained that the scope for the U-District hasn’t changed much since the beginning of this year, and although it’s definitely on the radar of the UFV planning committee, it’s a “25- to 40-year vision” and won’t be something that will happen overnight.
Of course, the concept of the U-District is UFV-centered, but it will ultimately be developed on property off-campus – therefore it’s primarily the work of the City of Abbotsford that will make this project come to fruition. Toews admitted that there are “limited possibilities to expand in [UFV’s] 47 acres,” adding that it is “pretty landlocked.” Since the U-District will be a City of Abbotsford initiative and not on UFV property, the project will need the support of the Abbotsford community.
On May 11, 2011 the City of Abbotsford hosted a public open house at UFV which included a presentation on the U-District as well as a brainstorming session of possible visions of the project going forward. In the City’s presentation, which can be found published online at their dedicated U-District website, they specified a timeline for the months of May and July for the U-District project. A part of that timeline was a second public open house in July which, according to the City’s U-District website, has been postponed; the new date is yet to be determined.