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University Endowment Lands
—  Unincorporated area  —
Location of University Endowment Lands within the Greater Vancouver Regional District in British Columbia, Canada
Country Canada
Province British Columbia
Regional District Greater Vancouver
 - MP Joyce Murray
 - MLA Gordon Campbell
 - Total 14.13 km2 (5.5 sq mi)
Elevation 80 m (262 ft)
Population (2001)
 - Daytime population Approx. 40,000
 - Permanent population 7,816
 - Permanent population Density 553.15/km2 (1,432.7/sq mi)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
Postal code span V6S, V6T
Area code(s) 604, 778
(1) Includes daytime UBC population.
(2)Daytime pop'n density:
2,830.86/km² (7,330/sq mi)
Flag of Canada.svg

The University Endowment Lands (UEL) is an unincorporated area that lies between the University of British Columbia and the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Pacific Spirit Regional Park lies within the UEL, but the UEL does not include the University of British Columbia nor private housing on the University campus. This housing, comprising 6000 residents in 2009, is administered by a partnership between the University of British Columbia and the University Neighbourhoods Association (UNA), with the UNA providing most municipal functions. The UEL is part of the Metro Vancouver and sometimes considered part of Vancouver (for example, Canada Post uses Vancouver for UEL addresses). The governance arrangements for these three areas are different, however.

The UEL is administered directly by the province and landowners pay their property taxes directly to the provincial government. In a 1995 referendum, UEL residents voted against establishing a municipal governing body.[1]



The University Endowment Lands are located immediately west of the City of Vancouver. Statistics Canada reports a total land area of 14.13 square kilometers (5.46 sq mi). About half of the UEL is made up of Pacific Spirit Regional Park, a mostly forested land that was originally set aside for development which never materialized. Located on Point Grey, the UEL also boasts tall cliffs near the water, with steep drops of approximately 70 metres (230 ft) down to the beaches below.

Because of its isolated location and the nature of the steep cliffs next to the beaches, Greater Vancouver's only nude beaches are located in the University Endowment Lands, the best known being Wreck Beach, located near the western tip of the peninsula.


Because the UEL is close to seaside cliffs and the Strait of Georgia, above-average winds are common. Most of the winds come from the Strait itself, Howe Sound and English Bay.

Snowfalls are also more common than many parts of the City of Vancouver because of the area's higher altitude and the lack of an urban heat island due to less terrestrial development.

The UEL has higher humidity compared to other parts of Greater Vancouver because it is surrounded on three sides by water. Fog is common in the winter months, especially in areas near Pacific Spirit Park and the water.

An aerial view of the University Endowment Lands, including UBC and Pacific Spirit Park.
A University Endowment Lands welcome sign on Northwest Marine Drive.


The creation of the University Endowment Lands was first proposed after the passing of the University Endowment Act of 1907, in which the British Columbia provincial government agreed to set aside two million acres (8,000 km²) of British Columbia Crown land to be sold or leased to fund the creation of a university. This land was to be in the Cariboo region of the province's Interior, and consisted of mostly agricultural land. This idea was changed in 1911 when the provincial government passed the University Site Act, which set aside 175 acres (0.7 km2) in Point Grey for the university. This is where the UEL is located today.

By 1920, it was realized that the Cariboo land did not have a high enough market value to generate the income needed for the university, so that idea was abandoned. This led to the British Columbia University Loan Act, which allowed the Lieutenant-Governor to sell 3,000 acres (12.4 km²) of Crown land on Point Grey for residential development. The money from the auction was put in the University Endowment Account for the university. [1]

"The Gates" monument at University Boulevard and Blanca Street, the intersection that straddles the border between Vancouver and the UEL.

However, a lot of the development that was planned was halted due to economic hardships stemming from the Great Depression. The university could not afford to prepare the land for development or to clear the forest land for development. In the 1930s, the university returned control of the land to the government. By the mid-1950s, over half of the undeveloped land in the UEL remained undeveloped due to the Depression and war shortages in the 1940s.

There have been many attempts to develop this land, which was then opposed by environmentally aware residents in the area. In 1988, the creation of Pacific Spirit Park was announced by the provincial Premier Bill Vander Zalm. The park currently makes up of over half of the UEL, acting as a greenbelt between the developed areas and the City of Vancouver. Development, in large part, is very limited—for any proposed developments in the UEL by the Greater Vancouver Regional District or the University of British Columbia, the following groups must be consulted beforehand: university students, university staff, university faculty, environmental groups, businesses, residents and the general public. [2]


Street signs are commonly used to identify UBC's boundaries within the UEL. To the left is a regular UEL street sign, and to the right is UBC's street sign.

The University Endowment Lands' residential population is small and the non-university population includes mostly high-income professionals as the land there is very expensive. The other residents are mostly students living in the university's residences. The 2001 census reported an official permanent population of 7,816. The daytime university population is around 40,000 and includes undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty and staff. As with most universities, diverse cultural and ethnic groups make up the daytime university population, making the UEL very multicultural.

Government and politics

An unincorporated entity, the UEL has no mayor or municipal government. Rather, it is mostly ruled by the University of British Columbia, the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) and the Province of British Columbia, and they control three entities: the University of British Columbia, University Hill and Pacific Spirit Regional Park. It is part of Electoral Area A of the GVRD.

Residential and commercial taxes are paid directly to the provincial government.

UEL residents are eligible to vote only for school board trustees in City of Vancouver municipal elections.

For provincial elections, the UEL falls under the Vancouver-Point Grey electoral riding. Its current Member of the Legislative Assembly is Gordon Campbell, who is also the current premier of the province.

For federal elections, the UEL is in the Vancouver Quadra electoral riding. The seat is held by Joyce Murray.


Pacific Spirit Regional Park, at the eastern end of the Endowment Lands, creates a physical buffer between the University and the adjacent Vancouver neighbourhoods of West Point Grey and Dunbar. Because of this, there are only five roads leading from Vancouver into the UEL: North West Marine Drive, 4th Avenue/Chancellor Boulevard, 10th Avenue/University Boulevard, 16th Avenue, and South West Marine Drive.

However, the large number of students and staff commuting to UBC on a daily basis means that the area is easily accessible by public transit. UBC Loop is the western terminus of many TransLink bus routes, and the bus system is heavily used due to a discount bus pass system called U-Pass. The following routes service the UEL and UBC:

A typical bus for the 99 B-Line, the UEL's bus rapid transit service.

An additional B-Line bus rapid transit route has been proposed from UBC to Joyce Station, replacing the current #43 UBC/Joyce Station. The Vancouver-UBC Area Transit Plan indicates that service would start in late 2009, to coincide with the opening of the Canada Line. There have also been several proposals for creating a rapid transit link to the university. The most likely candidate for such a service would involve extending the Millennium Line SkyTrain to Granville or Arbutus Street in Vancouver, with a B-Line route continuing on to UBC.

See also: List of bus routes in Metro Vancouver


The UEL is largely a residential neighbourhood, and most economic activity is centred at the University of British Columbia and the area around University Village and University Marketplace. UBC's stores are located mostly in the Student Union Building ("the SUB"). The Village and Marketplace, located next to each other near the intersection of University Boulevard and Allison Road, are located off-campus and home to a food court, several restaurants, some shops, some medical clinics and some services. This is the only commercial area outside of the UBC campus in the UEL.

The University Village, as seen from University Boulevard.

In addition to the locations above, there are small cafeterias and cafes located in certain buildings on the UBC campus.

There are also several museums and performing arts theatres on campus, including the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, the Museum of Anthropology at UBC, the Frederic Wood Theatre, and the Chan Centre.

The eastern end of the UEL is home to the University Golf Course, which is one of the original developments in the non-campus portions of the UEL.

Wreck Beach is also a popular area for locals and tourists alike due to its reputation as one of the largest clothing optional beaches in North America. A thriving market in food, drink, clothing, personal services and various recreational substances has prospered on the beach for decades.


Commercial centres

Wesbrook Village

Wesbrook Village is a small community centre in the southern tip of campus. It currently boasts a coffee shop and a Save-On-Foods Grocery Store. Most of the Village is still under construction however the coffee shop and grocery store are operational and open for business

University Village

The University Village is the first commercial structure built on the UEL. Its main level mostly includes a convenience store, a McDonald's restaurant and a photocopying store.

The second level is home to a Japanese restaurant, a salon, a pizza parlour and a discount textbook store (which is in direct competition with UBC Bookstore, located on campus).

The University Marketplace, as seen from Western Parkway.

The basement level is entirely dedicated to a multicultural-themed food court, including Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Middle Eastern, etc.

University Marketplace

The University Marketplace [3] is a mixed commercial-residential structure completed around the late 1990s to the early 2000s. The main floor is home to Rogers Wireless, Staples Business Depot, a provincial liquor store, Starbucks, several restaurants, some cafes and others.

The second floor of the Marketplace contains mostly offices and medical clinics. Some professors from UBC (especially those in the medical field) have offices located there, likely due to the proximity of the science buildings and UBC Hospital.

The upper floors of the Marketplace contain mostly residential apartment housing.

Student Union Building (SUB)

The SUB is home to most of the student clubs at UBC, as well as UBC Food Services (which include fast food services such as A&W and Starbucks), a Travel Cuts location, a salon, both a bar and a pub, a movie theatre, and other student services. It is owned and operated by the Alma Mater Society of the University of British Columbia.

Film industry

Wind Chill filming on location at the UBC campus.
Chan Centre at UBC as "The 4400 Center" during filming of The 4400.

Because many films require university scenes, the UBC/UEL area is a desirable filming location. Combined with the fact that the Vancouver area is the third-largest film production centre in North America, this has made UBC a popular location for many productions. Production companies that wish to shoot on-campus must pay a fee to the university, which goes to the film and theatre departments[citation needed].

Some notable movies and television shows shot in the UEL include:

  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine: Buchanan Tower
  • The Exorcism of Emily Rose: UBC's MacMillan Building as the courthouse, Kenny Building as the dorm and Buchanan Building
  • 88 Minutes: UBC's Koerner Library area
  • Taken: UBC's General Services Administration Building for hostage scenes
  • Try Seventeen: UBC's Chan Centre for student orientation scenes
  • She's the Man: UBC's Thunderbird Stadium for soccer stadium scenes
  • The Butterfly Effect: Koerner Library area, Room 100 of the UBC Geography Building as the lecture hall, and the main mall.
  • Wind Chill: UBC's Main Mall
  • The 4400: Chan Centre as "The 4400 Center," University Marketplace
  • Antitrust: Chan Centre
  • Smallville: Koerner and Main Libraries, for exteriors
  • Battlestar Galactica: Rose Garden and Chan Centre exterior for "Cloud Nine"
  • MacGyver: Various campus exteriors
  • Fringe: Flagpole Plaza, Chan Centre exterior and interior


The Vancouver School of Theology's Iona Building.

The UEL is home to the University of British Columbia (hence the name "University Endowment Lands"), the Vancouver School of Theology and Regent College. UBC owns approximately half of the University Endowment Lands; its share forms the university's main campus and research facilities, and those living on UBC property (for example, students) do not pay taxes like non-UBC residents in the UEL.

In addition, the UEL is served by the Vancouver School Board and is zoned to University Hill Secondary School and University Hill Elementary School.


Most of the UEL's sports activities and facilities are located on the UBC campus. UBC's sports teams are called the UBC Thunderbirds and they play at various locations on campus, including War Memorial Gym, Thunderbird Stadium, UBC Aquatic Centre and Thunderbird Winter Sports Centre. The Student Recreation Centre (REC) is home to intramural sports for students.

2010 Winter Olympics

For the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, the Thunderbird Winter Sports Centre was replaced by a newer building, named the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. Demolition of the old arena began in April 2006 and the arena opened on July 7, 2008. The new structure houses three ice rinks, with the main rink accommodating 6,800 spectators.[2].

Emergency services and public safety

  • Emergency social services
    • Organized and provided by the UBC Emergency Planning Office, Department of Health Safety and Environment.

See also


  1. ^ "University Endowment Lands". Greater Vancouver Book, 1997. p.109. The Linkman Press, Vancouver BC.
  2. ^ UBC Thunderbird Arena

External links

Surrounding municipalities

Coordinates: 49°15′29″N 123°13′41″W / 49.258°N 123.228°W / 49.258; -123.228


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