In September, the UFV Canada Education Park (CEP) campus in Chilliwack saw its Tim Hortons café debranded. It was replaced by the Spirit Bear Café.
The reason for the debranding was Tim Hortons’ restrictions on foods that could be sold from their storefront. Although Tim Hortons moved a lot of volume, their options were not on par with the value and choices at the Abbotsford campus.
“On the Abbotsford campus, you talk about breakfast or burgers, all the entrees, and the fresh from scratch cooking that we have here. We just weren’t able to do that out in Chilliwack, because we had a set menu that the Tim Hortons put in place,” said Cameron Roy, director of ancillary services.
Debranding from Tim Hortons, Roy said, was a completely mutual decision between UFV, UFV’s food services provider, Dana Hospitalities, and Tim Hortons. Tim Hortons in Abbotsford G building will remain as it is.
At UFV, Tim Hortons is operated like a franchise under Dana Hospitalities, so there is no competition between Dana and Tim Hortons.
Abbotsford A building’s coffee kiosk was also renovated over the summer to expand into another Spirit Bear Café. Previously, the kiosk was called the Roadrunner Café.
The furniture and renovations for the Spirit Bear Café cost about $30,000, which came out of UFV’s Pedagogy Investment Fund.
In an email, Craig Toews, UFV vice president, external, said, “As part of UFV’s Pedagogy Investment Fund, and recognizing that more than 50 per cent of learning happens outside of the classroom, we set out to change our eating areas from a ‘high school mess’ to an active learning environment, with furniture and configuration that activates the space.”
Since the café change, some students have expressed concern about the cost of coffee. Roy said he has had some complaints out of Chilliwack since replacing the Tim Hortons, mostly regarding price.
“There’s a premium on the coffee. One of the things I’ve heard is the price is similar to Starbucks,” Roy said.
Spirit Bear coffee prices are costlier than both the previous Tim Hortons and Roadrunner café. However, Roy noted that organic and fair trade always comes with an added cost.
Spirit Bear Coffee Company is a First Nations-owned, completely organic and fair trade coffee roaster, based out of Richmond, B.C. UFV pays a licensing fee to Spirit Bear to use their name for the café, and Spirit Bear sells the coffee through a partnership with Dana Hospitalities.
“[Spirit Bear] is an amazingly progressive company. It’s great that we’re in partnership with them,” Roy said. “The university should be proud of their relationships with Spirit Bear, in all that they’re doing.”
Paul Biglin, co-owner of Spirit Bear Coffee, said that being in a university is a big deal for his company.
“Having a university identity that we’re a First Nations company, and do what we do in our community is a big deal,” Biglin said. “We fight the big guys all the time. We’re fortunate to be selected by the university, it’s a big deal for us.”
Spirit Bear invests a portion of their profits and resources into their own communities. Spirit Bear helps fund environmental protection for the spirit bear, a black bear that is cream coloured, and revered in First Nations communities. They also help fund drones for whale research, and donate to the First Nations snowboard team, as well as the Highway of Tears – Preventing Violence Against Women program.
“As a First Nations company, we have to look after our own communities first. If we don’t help build our community, we won’t have a community that will help us grow,” Biglin said.