Join us at The Chilliwack Progress as we take our readers on a thoughtful trip down memory lane. Our Top Stories will recap the most significant news events, milestones and emerging themes that have shaped Chilliwack in 2016. It was undeniably a notable year, from an unprecedented spike in homelessness, to major development news, to the community revealing its keen interest in crime and politics, and a most caring heart.
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Things are looking mightily different at the former UFV lands on Yale Road.
After years of sitting mostly unused, the site sprang to life this year with two major projects. The first announcement was that Cascade Christian School would be making a move into the old Health Sciences building.
It was a major purchase, at $2.5 million, that paves the way for the rapidly growing school to better serve its students, while maintaining the education-history of the area. They announced their plans in February, and by August, they were renovating and settling in, just in time for school to start.
Students, staff, parents and board members all worked together to spruce up the 23-year-old, 20,000 square foot building.
The school board’s excitement helped fuel the fundraising needed.
“This is an opportunity that is of such amazing potential that we’ve felt led to pursue it, even though the immediate idea of ownership has not seemed possible or feasible until this point,” the board said at the time.
Shortly after Cascade announced their plans, a developer came through with a vision to redesign most of the rest of the parcel. And that development, Midtown, broke ground this spring as well. When completed, the project aims to include about 150 townhomes, 42 small lot single family homes, a rental unit apartment, and commercial space. The plan includes new roadways and will bring much-needed housing to the downtown area.
Eric Van Maren said at the time that his company, the Van Maren Group, is excited to be behind this massive redesign project.
“It’s been a long time since Chilliwack had a new, large-scale development on the Chilliwack side of the freeway,” he said in March.
“And this really is one of the last large non-ALR sites in the Chilliwack area.”
The first townhouses are about to be built, and could be for sale as early as late January.
The long term plan for that area is a lofty one, but includes a connection over to Eagle Landing. It’s a concept that would change the shape of Chilliwack north of the highway, alter traffic patterns, and create new opportunities. But it’s also one that’s hampered by a swath of ALR land running between the two developments along the Chilliwack River.
The history of the UFV site datesback to 1974, when the college was first formed. Over time, Fraser Valley College evolved into a university college, then a university. The university’s growth demanded more space, and they moved to their new, 150,000 sq. ft site at the Canada Education Park in 2012, along with most of their programs.