The new UFV Five Corners facility opened with all due fanfare on Friday in Chilliwack — made possible with the power of partnerships.
The new space was packed with officials celebrating the incredible new facility, dubbed UFV Five Corners, with a ribbon-cutting and speeches.
“I don’t know what to say other than ‘Wow!’ said UFV President Mark Evered.
The Five Corners project literally “exemplifies” how various communities and partners united and collaborated to make it all happen, he said.
Bank of Montreal was the first to get the ball rolling after donating the old bank building at Five Corners to University of the Fraser Valley.
Then CEPCO then stepped forward and donated the cost of renovating the former bank into an education and business centre.
The generous donations were worth more than $1.6 million.
“This excellent and much-needed new facility is a prime example of what can be achieved when corporate and community partners work together with our university,” Evered said.
He said he remembered the very first conversation with BMO officials about the generous donation of the space and what could be done with it by UFV.
“Let me say how deeply indebted we are to Bank of Montreal for their vision, and to CEPCO for their vision,” said Evered.
The credit for getting CEPCO involved goes to his predecessor, John Jansen, said Brian Coombes, executive director of Chilliwack Economic Partners Corp. They’re quite pleased to be a part of the newest education hub for UFV.
“We felt renovating this building was an important investment in our ongoing partnership with the UFV, and also with City of Chilliwack, and their efforts to revitalize the downtown,” said Coombes.
It’s something that will provide almost immediate and tangible returns, as well as future spinoffs, by bringing the local university right into downtown Chilliwack, he said.
The new facility features a lobby with a skylight, a classroom, a computer lab, meeting rooms, and offices in the two-storey, 7,000 square-foot space.
“We look forward to playing a vital role in the ongoing revitalization of the historic downtown Chilliwack area,” said Evered.
Liana Thompson, director of Continuing Education for UFV, offered a glimpse of what’s in store, announcing new courses in public relations and records management. It will also be available for community bookings and meetings, programming by other UFV departments, and customized training through Continuing Education at UFV.
The building — valued at $850,000 — was donated to the university by the Bank of Montreal.
BMO official Mike Bonner said at the ribbon-cutting that it was more about celebrating the new campus for UFV at Five Corners, then it was about the bank’s role.
Nonetheless the building that used to house the bank for more than 100 years in Chilliwack before moving to Eagle Landing, was “the single largest donation” ever made by BMO in B.C. outside of Vancouver.
“It was a no-brainer, even for bankers,” Bonner said, getting a laugh from the crowd.
Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation (CEPCO) provided $850,000 to renovate the building and managed the renovation project. UFV provided $150,000 for furnishing, IT services, and other improvements.
The architectural firm for the project was Craven Huston Powers of Chilliwack, and they designed the new UFV facility at 46115 Yale Road at the corner of Young/
Craig Toews, UFV Executive Director of Campus Planning, is happy to see the project completed and ready to welcome students.
“UFV is excited to have a presence in this new location and will be working with community partners to develop programming and events that will enhance Chilliwack’s downtown. Actively engaged with CEPCO, the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Improvement Association, and Walas Concepts, UFV will be reaching out to other Chilliwack organizations to develop programming and other uses for our Five Corners location,” said Toews.
South Fraser Community Futures has also partnered with UFV, relocating their offices from Abbotsford to the new space.
Thompson said they now want to hear from the community.
“We encourage people to contact UFV Continuing Education with their ideas for courses and programs,” said Thompson. We can also offer customized contract training to local businesses and organizations on topics they want their employees to learn about.”