Partners form trust for Finning land

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

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Looking down from the academic quadrangle, it's just possible to imagine that you can see the former Finning lands on Great Northern Way in Vancouver.

This is the $42 million, 18.6 acre parcel of land that Finning Int'l Inc. donated in part last year to four Lower Mainland post-secondary institutions - SFU, UBC, BCIT and the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. The four partners are in the process of forming a trust to administer what is being now called the Great Northern Way campus.

Previously industrial, the site has been rezoned as a key element in the city of Vancouver's strategy to establish a high-tech focus for the False Creek Flats. Still a long-term prospect, a fully built educational complex on the site is likely to be financed largely through proceeds from development elsewhere on the property.

Creating an academic vision for Great Northern Way is the first step in planning a way forward. Ron Marteniuk, special advisor to the VP- academic, is chairing a senate committee to help shape such a vision and to explore SFU's program opportunities at Great Northern Way.

“All of the institutions have met and some themes are emerging including urbanism, art and design, new media, bio- and health informatics,” says Marteniuk. A research presence is considered essential and could include centres that deal with basic research while reaching out to the surrounding community. These centres could be supported by a single partner institution or they could be inter-institutional and collaborative.

John Waterhouse, VP-academic, has called on faculty and staff to contribute to SFU's academic vision by providing input to the committee. As Marteniuk says, “Academic program ideas don't have to be exclusive to these themes. They can be anything. We can proceed on the basis of SFU programs operating alone or in co-operation with one of the other partners.”

Development of the site could proceed over the next five to 20 years but the initial vision is expected to be completed by next spring, following review and approval by senate.

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