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History of the UBC Pt Grey Campus

Here's a very interesting article on the history of the UBC Pt Grey campus by Chris Gordon for published January 30, 2013.

The University of BC might have begun its life as an academic institution in the middle of the forest, but it’s grown beyond its roots into a desirable neighbourhood for all comers. Through the UBC Properties Trust, profits from land development are reinvested to fund the university. With more development planned and an aim to be a net-zero energy consumer, its future can still be linked to the historical campaign that helped shape it…

Few of those who organized and took part in the Build the University Campaign in 1922 could have predicted the scale of development that would take place decades later.


When the student population outgrew the existing university— in the Fairview district, where Vancouver General Hospital now stands—they used Varsity Week in October 1922 to raise awareness of their need to move to a bigger, permanent home. Their efforts culminated in The Great Trek, when 1,200 students walked and waved banners from downtown Vancouver to the Point Grey campus.


A week later they handed in the 56,000-signature petition they’d amassed over the summer and fall to the legislature in Victoria. This, combined with the presentation and public support, persuaded the Province to finish what it had stopped due, largely, to the advent of The First World War.


On September 22, 1925 UBC as we know it held its inaugural assembly.


There is more to the backstory of UBC, which you can read about here and also in this article by Emma Spenner Norman, which details how UBC’s idyllic setting was considered a place of inspiration, and how the area had long been used for education by the Musqueam people.


The initial 175 acres of Crown land at Point Grey was set aside for a university by the University Site Act of 1912, and in 1920 the British Columbia University Loan Act increased the amount of land for residential development to 3,000 acres.


Former BC Premier and then Lands Minister Duff Patullo drew up the first subdivision plan for Point Grey in 1926. Only the first phase was completed as the Great Depression and later the Second World War came and halted the development of all the UEL.


This loss of momentum, combined with later opposition to numerous development attempts rolled on into the modern era and the undeveloped land, almost 2,000 acres, became Pacific Spirit Park in 1988.


The park and the private properties on the original 175 acres are not part of UBC and have their services provided by the Provincial government. The remaining 1,000 acres is the university’s and is what UBC is developing to endow the university.The UBC Properties Trust develops and manages land. Its function is to reinvest in the future of the university, with UBC and the UBC Foundation being its sole beneficiaries.


And as the UBC Campus and Community Planning Department states on its website: “The land is being used to transform UBC from what was historically a commuter campus into a vibrant, sustainable, live-work-learn community of scholars.” Five UBC neighbourhoods embody that transformation.

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