Campus athletic facilities to get major upgrades

UBC is hoping to enhance the sports experience for the Vancouver campus community by creating a 20-year strategy that aims to improve its recreation and athletic facilities.

A Board of Governors meeting on June 14 had members approving the Athletics & Recreation Facilities Strategy. Athletic and recreational facilities on the Vancouver campus are currently limited due to insufficient space and quality deficits, and the strategy aims to address this. There are also a number of aging facilities that are in need of improvements, most distinctly being the War Memorial Gym as well as Thunderbird Stadium, as noted by the Board of Governors. 

As to when students can expect to see these initiatives come to fruition, UBC has yet to reach that point in its process.

“The timeline and overall construction sequencing hasn’t been set, and we’d have to be very thoughtful and consultative about when these changes would be made, because we certainly want to have the least amount of impact on student athletes,” said Kavie Toor, director of facilities and business development. “Once the strategy is fully endorsed, that’s when we would articulate what that plan would look like.”

In regards to where UBC stands in this process, they are currently in the phase of revising and finalizing their proposed strategy. Based on analyses already done, UBC plans to create two distinct areas for athletic facilities on campus — a "recreation hub" and a "spectator hub." 

The hub concept entails consolidating facilities in order to improve access for both recreational and spectator sports.  

“It was something we definitely saw in two particular [United States] schools — University of Washington and Stanford University,” said Toor. “There were considerable benefits to collocating those alike facilities and creating a recreational well-being hub.”

On October 3, UBC will begin consulting with the Vancouver campus community on options as to how they can meet the campus’s evolving athletic demands. The process of developing the Facilities Strategy will conclude by spring 2017 with the final presentation to the UBC Board of Governors, who will need to approve the strategy before it proceeds.

According to the Board of Governors, a fourth phase dubbed "implementation" will begin to cement the agreed-upon changes after approval, and will take "18+ months."

“[UBC is] a big university with over 60,000 people, and I think creating an environment where people want to go to and cheer on different sports and create that UBC pride is something that would be really exciting,” said Jesse Symons, head coach of the UBC women’s soccer team. “I think that could happen now with the current set up, but in bringing in a new facility, there is obviously even more opportunity to bring people out.” 

“This future strategy is going to have a high impact on the student experience on campus,” said Toor. “The end goal is to learn how to create an outstanding student experience.”