New Chilliwack campus offers promise for tomorrow

UFV's new Chilliwack campus is only the first stage of its 86-acre property at Canada Education Park.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that UFV’s Craig Toews sat in an abandoned office of the old engineering building at the former CFB Chilliwack and told The Progress about the university’s vision for the property and its place within Canada Education Park. With maps unfurled, Toews, UFV’s director of campus planning, described how the surplus military building would be transformed into a warm and inviting centre for learning. Rusting metal would be replaced with wood, windows would capture the beauty of the landscape outside.

Two years later, that vision is coming true.

Or at least starting to.

Last week, university officials opened the new facility, preparing the way for classes to begin there in September.

It is a spectacular building, one that bears little resemblance to the utilitarian structure it morphed out of. Instead of facing inward, the building is oriented to the south, taking advantage of the Vedder River at its doorstep. Soaring windows not only capture light, they frame one of the most beautiful places on earth.

But the building is more than good looks. Come this fall, the campus – which includes the new Trades and Technology building – will be the educational home to roughly 3,000 students. It will continue to provide post secondary opportunities in this part of the Fraser Valley, as well as jobs for years to come.

But the new building is just the start. It occupies only a portion of the 86 acres that the university holds at Canada Eduction Park.

UFV has plans for the rest, as the maps Toews stretched out in that empty office two years ago show. Fulfilling those plans won’t happen over night. But the property offers the university an advantage few institutions can claim: “Room to grow.”

And for Chilliwack, that means something simple: promise for the future.