The University of the Fraser Valley hopes to ask the B.C. government to ante up to build a $30 million new high-tech building that will house classrooms for technology, digital media programs and provide a new home for the UFV theatre department.
The university envisions the new 86,000-square-foot building as a “Digital HUB,” that “will facilitate interactive teaching and performance-based learning utilizing a highly sophisticated digital infrastructure, providing the environment to foster innovation with industry and grow the knowledge capacity that students and employers seek.”
The project was defined as UFV’s top capital priority in its five-year capital plan completed this fall.
While the university aims to raise $10 million to go towards the project, it’s hoping the Ministry of Advanced Education will contribute the rest. The capital plan notes that the “success of this project is heavily dependent on funding support from our ministry.”
To that end, the university has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a business case for the project. The successful proponent of that RFP will be involved in shaping the scope of the project.
As envisioned by the university’s capital plan, the new building would be constructed in 2019, with it welcoming students in 2020.
The Digital HUB would provide classrooms for several new university programs, including the engineering physics diploma in mechatronics, graphic and digital design diploma, media arts degree, and bachelor of eduction programs, among others.
“These programs all have advanced technological and media requirements, which means that a Digital HUB is not just an added resource, but an integral part of these programs,” the plan states.
It would also provide a new theatre for the UFV theatre program. The program has previously been based at the Chilliwack North campus, which is being redeveloped after the relocation of programs to UFV’s new Chilliwack campus.
Currently, the Abbotsford campus is activating over capacity, according to UFV, with a classroom utilization of 111 per cent.
“This situation has been ongoing for several years and is negatively affecting UFV’s capacity to satisfy student demand with sufficient space to provide a transformative learning experience,” the capital plan says.
This isn’t the first time the university has sought funding for such a building. In 2014, the university outlined an even larger version of the Digital HUB that would have boasted nearly 130,000 square feet of floor space and cost $50 million. The university hoped the province would contribute $30 million to that project.
Other capital projects planned by UFV include $8 million envelope replacements for buildings D and A; an $8 million expansion of the campus’s former trades building (building C); mechanical and electrical renovations to buildings A and B costing $11.2 million; and a $15 million expansion of UFV’s Agriculture Centre of Excellence in Chilliwack. All four of the projects would require funding to be procured from the provincial government.