Urbanizing the academy: The University of British Columbia's planning, development and sustainability story

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Wakely, Mike
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Universities are traditionally focused on education and research, yet in a shift toward more entrepreneurial activities, some universities are using their large physical institutions and land base for land development projects and to demonstrate sustainability initiatives. While a move to market-based activities has been criticized for straying too far from the academic mission at the core of a university, supporters point to the new revenue stream from land development as a means to contribute to the University’s academic mission. As a politically autonomous institution from neighbouring municipalities and the regional government, and with its land use and permitting authority, UBC is ambitiously undertaking major urban development projects on its land. To understand how UBC arrived at its current context, this case study focuses on the key features, figures and processes of property development, land use planning and sustainable development undertaken at the University. Using document analysis and semi-structured interviews, this practicum includes a background study and provides insights specific to UBC’s experience as well as highlights relevant lessons for other universities seeking to engage in property development and integrate sustainable development initiatives into their design and operations.
Land use planning, University land use planning, Property development, University property development, Sustainability development, University sustainable development, Sustainability, Government business enterprise, University of British Columbia, Entrepreneurialism, Growth Coalition, Neighbourhood association, University residents, Endowment lands