Updated: Jun 4
The development of Lot 24 is our last, best chance for a community centre in UniverCity. Now is the time for residents to speak up -- read on to find out how you can help.
As a planned community, many of the needs of those who live in UniverCity were anticipated and have been provided for. However, one key amenity has never materialized: a community centre - that is, a space accessible to community members, the city, non-profits, and other services providers
UniverCity residents have long discussed their frustration with the lack of a community centre, and UniverCity Community Association (UCA) has seen firsthand how difficult it is for non-profits and others to provide services on Burnaby Mountain due to lack of space. We note that the nearest existing community centre, community school, or library is more than 30 minutes away from our 7000 (soon to be 8500) residents by public transit.
Because we are nearing the end of our community’s development and all surrounding land is owned by SFU, we are approaching the last opportunity to include a community centre in UniverCity. The specific types of activities and services that are challenging or impossible to deliver at an adequate level for a population of 8,500 include:
Family & early childhood development programming
Children’s recreational programming
Before and after school care
Adult & senior fitness
Recreational & social programming
Community meetings, gatherings & events (an indoor space is critical in the winter, and increasingly in the summer due to climate change)
Pro-D day camps
Spring break & summer children’s camps
Community fridge/pantry & other Primary Care Network services
Children’s birthday parties & other celebrations
English language conversation groups
Social support for newcomers to Canada
There is also no public space in our community that will be able to house emerging community service needs such as a cooling space, or new delivery methods for primary care services.
Currently, we help community members, nonprofits and other service providers to work with SFU, the elementary school, and stratas to use any space they have available. However, as our community grows and demand increases, find that none of these existing spaces come close to meeting the needs of our community.
SFU, as an institution with its own priorities, is very limited in the rooms it can rent to the public during instructional hours. Many of its bookable spaces are far from our community’s focal point, and SFU may choose to decline rentals or not respond to requests at all.
Similarly, the elementary school - which is not a community school - is almost at full enrollment and has no space available for the community. The school's rentable spaces can only be used for a limited purpose during very limited time frames. This coupled with building access limitations doesn’t make the school a viable option for residents.
Some stratas have amenity rooms, however these are usually reserved for the use of the building’s residents, are in access-controlled buildings, and are not suitable for much more than the occasional small meeting. T
The UCA has had preliminary discussions with SFU about the need for community space in UniverCity in order to find areas of potential alignment. Through these discussions, we’ve identified probably the last viable opportunity for many years - to create a community centre. UniverCity: Lot 24 Mosaic development on University High Street. This development is still in rezoning, and contains a street-accessible ground floor space which could be purchased or leased by the City. This space is currently designated for retail units for which our community has little need; it could instead provide far greater benefit as a community hub.
In January 2023, the UCA wrote to the city, asking them to take the lead in working with the Parcel 24 developer, the SFU Community Trust and SFU to secure space for a community centre in that building. But we have heard little back and time is running out. Therefore, we are asking everyone in the community who cares about this issue to write to city council and let them know why you want a community centre in UniverCity and how it would improve your life.
(Please note, although there is a severe need for all-day childcare for ages 0-5 in UniverCity, Parcel 24 can't meet that need because it will have no attached outdoor space - currently a provincial requirement. We continue to raise this separate issue with the province, the city and SFU but you should not use this as a basis for writing in support of a community centre.)
Resources to help you with your letter:
Please if you'd like to volunteer to get more involved with the campaign beyond writing a letter: Univercity.firstname.lastname@example.org