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IF YOU HAVEN’T toured the UBC campus lately, you may want to take a map; its 1,000 acres have undergone massive changes in recent years. Indeed, the rapid emergence of “U-Town”—a collection of eight distinct villages that will more than double the campus population—has raised the hackles of conservationists who don’t want trees felled for condos. But how else, mid recession, does an administration pay for the 17 new academic buildings also springing up? Trek south down Wesbrook Mall, past Keats Hall, Chaucer Hall, and Panhellenic House until you hit the phalanx of billboards advertising shingle-and-brick complexes. Like most suburban developments, Wesbrook (the largest U-Town hood) feels sweetly manicured but a little lonely. Eventually, more than 5,000 residents (in 2,500 units) will live in this village. By 2030, when all eight villages are completed, more than 25,000 people will call the campus home.
YOU ARE HERE
Siblings Bayan, 21, and Roya, 18, grew up in Qatar, Thailand, Venezuela, and Canada. The nomads have alighted at UBC to continue their post-secondary education—Bayan, his third year of biomedical engineering; Roya, her second year of an arts degree. Uninterested in cramped (mono-sex) student residences, they opted for a condo in the campus’s new village.
The Bennetts looked at 10 other places around town, including a spot kitty-corner to the fraternity houses, before settling on an 856-square-foot condo in the Pacific Spirit development.
They liked the water feature out front and generous patio in the back. With financial assistance from their father, a petroleum engineer, the siblings moved in at the end of July. With classes in full swing, Bayan and Roya haven’t had time to decorate the two-bedroom, two-bath unit. “It’s still kind of a mess.”
Classes are a 15-minute walk away, and espresso-fuelled study sessions at Blenz are mere steps. Roya is also keyed up for voice lessons at the village’s Mozart School of Music and part-time work at Save-On-Foods across the street. Happily, wilderness still beckons in the form of forests to the east and the UBC Farm a brief stroll to the south.
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