British Columbia University Endowment Lands
The unincorporated University Endowment Lands (Lands) surround the University of British Columbia between the City of Vancouver, Canada and the Strait of Georgia between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. The mostly forested Pacific Spirit Regional Park composes about half of the 5.46 square miles of the Lands. On Point Grey at the end of the peninsula, high cliffs drop steeply to beaches 200 feet below.
The Province of British Columbia administers the Lands directly. In a 1995 referendum, residents voted against establishment of a municipal governing body. Administration of the University of British Columbia and its housing land is under a duality of the university and the University Neighbourhoods Association with the association performing most municipal services. The Lands have no mayor or municipal government. The University of British Columbia, the Greater Vancouver Regional District, and the Province of British Columbia administer areas of the Lands. Law enforcement is under the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The City of Vancouver provides fire and rescue services under contract.
The Lands are close to seaside cliffs on the Strait of Georgia, and strong winds are frequent. Snowfalls are infrequent but more common than in the city farther inland because of the higher altitude of the Lands and their lack of urban development to generate heat. On a peninsula surrounded on three sides by water the Lands have more humidity than does Metro Vancouver as a whole. Fog is sometimes daily during winter months.
The University Site Act in 1911 set aside 175 acres in Point Grey for the university. The British Columbia University Loan Act in 1920 allowed an auction sale of 3,000 acres of Crown land on Point Grey for residential development. Auction proceeds went into a university endowment account. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, financially unable to develop the land, the university returned it to the government.
There have been many attempts to develop this area opposed by resident environmental activists. In 1988, the provincial government created Pacific Spirit Park, which functions as a greenbelt between the developed areas of the Lands and the City of Vancouver. Further development of the Lands will be difficult as it would require consultation with university students, staff, and faculty, environmental organizations, business organizations, residents, and the general public.
Other than students living in university residences, the Lands’ residential population is small and mostly high-income professionals who can afford the very high realty prices. The 2001 census reported an official permanent population of 7,816 and around 40,000 undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff.
Only five roads lead from Vancouver into the Lands; however, the area is readily accessible by public transit. The UBC Loop is the western terminus of many TransLink bus routes
Most economic activity occurs around University Village and University Marketplace, which are next to each other just off the campus near University Boulevard and Allison Road, where there are several restaurants, some shops, medical clinics, and some services. Most university businesses operate in the Student Union Building.