Simon Fraser University

UniverCity wins Planning Institute of B.C. award

June 29, 2006 , volume 36, no. 5

Another award proves once again that UniverCity is a winning place to live, work and play. This time, the Planning Institute of British Columbia has awarded the fledgling residential and commercial development next to Simon Fraser University the award of excellence for site planning and design.

SFU Community Trust President Michael Geller, who is overseeing the development, accepted the award at the World Planning Congress in Vancouver which recently attracted more than 1,200 planners from around the world.

UniverCity has received eight awards for environmental foresight, design innovation and progressive community planning. The community's features include a discounted transit pass for residents, a special zoning by-law that legalizes secondary suites in apartments and townhouses and development guidelines to make homes more energy and resource efficient.

Earlier this year, the Canadian Home Builders' Association voted the village-like development, complete with town centre, the best new community development in Canada. Last year, the U.S.-based Association of University Real Estate Officials presented UniverCity with its award of excellence.

UniverCity's winning reputation is garnering a lot of national and international media attention, including from the Sunday New York Times and Dialogue Magazine, a Taiwanese planning publication. David Suzuki's television program The Nature of Things has highlighted UniverCity as a healthy, walkable community.

Geller says he is particularly proud of recognition acknowledging UniverCity's efforts to be a healthy and safe place to live. At the same time, he is disappointed that the first elementary school, which is located at the center of the first neighbourhood, UniverCity Highlands, has not yet received funding approval from the province and Burnaby School District.

 “It is a sad irony that the only elementary school children being bussed to school in Burnaby are those living in an award-winning walkable community,” he says.

With more than 1,000 homes nearly completed, the community recently opened a dental centre and is getting ready to welcome the Ellesmere United Church. When completed, two decades from now, UniverCity will house up to 10,000 residents in a variety of neighbourhoods surrounding the SFU Burnaby campus.