Abbotsford’s UDistrict is envisioned as an urban community with more retail shops and thousands of additional residents. City of Abbotsford image

Abbotsford’s UDistrict is envisioned as an urban community with more retail shops and thousands of additional residents. City of Abbotsford image

University village envisioned in draft plan for area around UFV

Neighbourhood plan for Abbotsford’s UDistrict released

One day, visitors to the University of the Fraser Valley may not be able to immediately tell where the campus ends and the surrounding neighbourhood begins.

At least that’s the future envisioned in a draft neighbourhood plan for the city’s so-called UDistrict area that was presented to council Monday.

The plan – which has been in the works for years and will go through another set of revisions before it becomes policy – lays out just how the city wants the area to the north and west of UFV to grow over the coming decades.

By 2040, the plan envisions 6,000 more people living in the area, while UFV is projected to add 1,600 students and 370 workers.

The core of the sprawling plan revolves around building a tree-lined retail and pedestrian hub near Abbotsford Centre that will be home to shops, offices and homes and which can be blocked off to cars during major events. That “Cascades Plaza” will be part of a “UWalk” corridor linking the Salton Road pedestrian and bicycle overpass with the centre of the UFV campus.

While the plan deals with a large neighbourhood south of Highway 1 that spans from Jackson Street in the west to almost Riverside Road in the east, almost all of the growth is envisioned to take place to the immediate north and northwest of UFV. In addition to the university village area focused on the lands around Abbotsford Centre, development is also expected around the King and McCallum Road intersection, and in the lands between the two nodes.

The draft plan envisions most of that development to take the form of multi-storey mixed use and apartment buildings. The draft plan also puts an emphasis on the need to encourage more walking, cycling and transit use by adding more infrastructure. That includes not only adding sidewalks and bike lanes, but also things like bike racks, while requiring new apartment buildings to do the same.

At the present, the lands north of UFV are mostly industrial. While the plan wouldn’t require any property owners to sell or uproot their businesses, when they do choose to move, any new redevelopment would be aimed at creating a more-dense neighbourhood focused on commercial and residential land uses. Meanwhile, UFV is planning to build out its north end, and the plan suggests the university village will “blur” the boundaries between the campus and community.

The city will be holding two open houses on Feb. 6 to discuss the plan and gather more feedback. One will take place in the library rotunda at UFV from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., the other will be in the front entrance of Abbotsford Centre from 5 to 8 p.m.