UniverCity wins award for excellence

March 09, 2006, volume 35, no. 5
By Marianne Meadahl

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It may be the new kid on the block, but UniverCity, the new community at Simon Fraser University, is already turning heads nationally.

UniverCity has won the 2005 Canadian Home Builders Association sales and marketing (SAM) award for best community development. The award celebrates excellence in projects across Canada.

"I am delighted that our accomplishments have been recognized," says Michael Geller, president and CEO of the SFU Community Trust. "When planning first began, it was hoped that this community would ultimately warrant national acclaim for the university and the city of Burnaby. It is gratifying to be receiving this recognition at such an early stage in our development."

The SAM award recognizes the success of the first neighbourhood, UniverCity Highlands, which includes townhouses, apartments, shops, a town square, neighbourhood park and future school, all within walking or cycling distance of one another. The Highlands is being designed as a healthy, safe and liveable neighbourhood for approximately 5,000 people.

UniverCity incorporates a number of innovative, sustainable features. All of the housing is designed in accordance with strict development controls, including green building guidelines that result in improved energy performance and indoor air quality. To date, more than 1,000 homes have been completed, or are under construction at UniverCity.

Buildings also include legalized secondary suites which allow apartment owners to rent out a portion of their units to students or others seeking affordable housing. "These are like mortgage helpers in the sky," says Geller, who praises the city of Burnaby for supporting this and other innovative zoning features.

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