Recently, UBC acquired a 135,000-square-foot property – currently home to the Grace Hanin Community Church – at the intersection of King George Boulevard and Fraser Highway, close to the SkyTrain and Surrey Memorial Hospital.
As president and vice-chancellor of UBC, I am thrilled to see the university expand its physical presence in the fastest-growing community in British Columbia.
I emphasize physical presence as UBC already has a significant presence in the Fraser region, particularly within Surrey Memorial Hospital and other health-care settings.
Every year, 5,000 UBC health students and medical residents undertake rotations in hospitals, primary care settings and clinics; 200 of our nursing students train in Fraser Health; and 100 pharmaceutical science students take part in placements at 57 sites.
You have probably met a UBC student practitioner without even knowing it.
One-third of UBC medical students also come from high schools in the Fraser region and, most importantly, 60 per cent of UBC family medicine students who train in the Fraser region stay there to practice. As of 2017, there were 750 UBC medical grads in the region. Less visible, but no less significant are the 3,500 students, 750 faculty and staff, and 15,000 alumni who call Surrey home.
Research has shown time and again that post-secondary education is a key driver of economic success – not only for the individual but for the community as a whole. Individual success breeds community success.
So what does the future hold for UBC’s new space in Surrey?
To be clear, the completion of this site is some years away but I have already been overwhelmed with messages from residents of Surrey who welcome a stronger UBC presence in the city.
I am hearing great ideas from the deans at UBC and I will be working closely with them to guide our academic planning for the site.
At the same time, we are committed to undertaking all the processes and public consultations needed to ensure that the project succeeds in the long-term.
First of all, we want to listen to the community about the kind of facility that will serve Surrey and the South Fraser Economic Region in the best way.
More information regarding the consultation process will be shared in the coming months but make no mistake, the next few years will be a time for UBC to listen, to consult and to work with you. We can only build this site from the ground up, with your input and advice.
We look forward to hearing from you so we can make this UBC site a new hub for post-secondary education and an invaluable asset to the entire community. And we look forward to listening.
Santa J. Ono is UBC President and Vice-Chancellor.