Jonathan Tinney

Jonathan Tinney points out progress at UniverCity.

Development picks up at UniverCity

March 11, 2010

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Spring has sprung early on Burnaby Mountain and so has development activity in SFU’s UniverCity residential community.

The January opening of Nesters Market in the Hub building on University High Street ushered in one-stop shopping for UniverCity residents and the campus community.

In the adjacent Cornerstone building, Dollar Store & More has taken over the space Nesters occupied while its new digs were built, and Club Ilia—a new restaurant/lounge overlooking Town Square—is up and running.

Also rapidly taking shape in the renovated East Academic Annex building is a 275-student elementary school set to open next fall. The building is the first renovation of any school in B.C. built to a LEED Gold (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification level.

And two new mid-rise residential buildings are set to begin construction soon on University High Street east of Tower Road, directly opposite the elementary school.

The four-storey wood-framed buildings will take about 18 months to complete, says Jonathan Tinney, director of community development for SFU Community Trust, the organization that manages the development of UniverCity.

The buildings will feature a range of residence sizes and configurations including a significant number appealing to families with children.

"That’s very appropriate," says Tinney, "considering they will be right across from the school, which will help us to continue developing as a family oriented community."

Tinney is also excited about the über-green, 50-student childcare facility for three- to five-year-olds going up this spring at the corner of Highland Court and Tower Road.

The building, which will take 12–18 months to complete, will be built to a performance-based environmental certification that exceeds the current LEED rating system, known as the Living Building Challenge (LBC).

Among other things, Living Buildings are required to be net-zero consumers of water and energy and must be constructed of locally acquired materials containing no harmful chemicals.

"The idea," says Tinney, "is that the building will have as little impact on the Earth as we can possibly make it."

Once complete, he adds, UniverCity’s new childcare facility will be one of the most sustainable buildings in the world and one of the first Living Buildings certified in Canada.

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Great to see that a community is forming up on the hill!


It's great to have buildings that have little impact on the earth, it would be nice though to see some of the existing trees incorporated into these spaces rather than just a clear-cut.


I have to agree Tracy's comment. These buildings should be more sensitively designed, so as to leave as much of the existing forest in place as possible. Say, at least 20%?

Dave Burley

The trust is great at building environmentally friendly buildings and claiming associated credit. Yet those of us who live up here clearly realize the hypocrisy of it all when, as Tracy notes, there is no effort or plan to retain even small stands of existing forest or select trees that do not require removal. I note that the much praised daycare project led to the removal of what must have been a 200 year stately douglas fir that, given its location almost on the edge of the property, didnt need to happen.

William Storness-Bliss

I would agree with both Tracy and Dave however, I would like to comment, that while it is important to have environmentally friendly buildings, it is also good to have more businesses within these "buildings" that are based on sustainable principles. Most "chain businesses" do not reflect these principles. Buildings do not make a community by themselves alone.

Bill Storness-Bliss

Apparently the tree may have been removed because of rot developing in the trunk, which is understandable because one would not want it to tumble. However I would agree that more forest should be left or at least a larger park planned as the little park under the tower is quite bare and stark.

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