Simon Fraser University

UniverCity grows on mountain

Sep 19, 2002 , vol. 25, no. 2

By Howard Fluxgold
The face of the Burnaby Mountain campus is about to change, turning the top of the mountain into what Michael Geller predicts will be a vibrant university town.

“A lot of people will just see one-and-a-half years of disruption,” acknowledges Geller, president and CEO of the Simon Fraser UniverCity Community Corp., formerly the Burnaby Mountain Community Corp. “But at the end, there will be a community that, over time, will help convert Simon Fraser University from a commuter campus to a small university town. All of that will be of great benefit to the university.”

Even before the Sept. 18 official sod turning, changes have become visible as workers remove trees in preparation for a new road north of Discovery Park and a new intersection between the East Campus and Ring roads. Eventually, a road will cut through the northeast end of the campus parallel to the Ring road. This road, to be named University Crescent, will run through the current site of the president's house and require its removal. (No decision has been made on a new home.) It will also result in the reconfiguration of the bus loop, Geller notes, although the removal or relocation of the loop won't happen “for the foreseeable future.” He expects the roads to be completed by the end of the year.

Initially, there will be minimal disruption to parking. However, eventually part of B parking lot on the east side of Tower road is slated for development, while the B lot west of Tower road is destined for university expansion.

“In the long run,” says Geller, “the plan is to replace all surface parking with new parking structures on the perimeter of the campus.”

In the meantime, a town will begin to take shape. Three residential developers will begin construction in spring 2003 of apartments-for-sale on four parcels of land off the newly constructed road. The buildings will range from four to eight stories and are scheduled for completion by summer 2004.

Work will also begin on a mixed-use building of retail shops, office space and rental apartments near the bus loop, east of the contemporary arts buildings.

“There is no doubt there will be some disruption to parking and traffic patterns during construction,” says Geller. But by 2004, the campus will see a new community complete with cafes, pubs and restaurants and, of course, apartments which range from about $130,000 for a one bedroom up to $500,000 or more for the largest units.

“Much of the first phase of development will be attractive to current faculty and staff as well as retired faculty and staff thinking about selling their home and moving into something different,” Geller predicts.

After 20 years of talk about a new community on Burnaby Mountain, says Geller, it is finally starting to take shape.