The University of British Columbia is expanding its presence south of the Fraser River, with the purchase of a $70 million property in Surrey, B.C., that it says will serve as a revenue generator.
In a statement Tuesday, the university said its UBC Properties Trust has acquired a 12,500 square-metre site at the intersection of King George Boulevard and Fraser Highway, which is currently home to the Grace Hanin Community Church.
The plan is to develop the site — which is located close to the SkyTrain, Surrey Memorial Hospital and other community amenities — with a combination of residential and commercial space, which UBC hopes will generate revenue to build dedicated academic facilities.
"UBC is committed to creating welcoming spaces that advance innovation and collaboration and respond
to community and regional needs — and this new site demonstrates this," UBC president and vice-chancellor Santa Ono said in the statement.
The school says the new acquisition supports its strategic plan to develop its regional presence, as well as improve access to post-secondary education in the Fraser Valley region.
It plans to work with Fraser Health, the First Nations Health Authority and the province to train health students and medical residents in the area.
Nearly 4,300 students, faculty and staff, as well as thousands of UBC alumni, live in the Surrey area, according to the school, and every year more than 4,900 health students and medical residents study in the area's hospitals and primary care clinics.
UBC said public consultation with Surrey and other Fraser Valley communities, alongside Indigenous leaders, will get underway next year.
The school did not indicate whether it had a timeline for the development.
CBC News has contacted the Grace Hanin Community Church for comment but has yet to hear back.