Chilliwack has a rich and proud history that makes it unique not only in the Fraser Valley, but also within BC. Many families settled on this fertile land and its agricultural history is evident to this day, where fresh farm food is readily available and prized for its exceptional quality.
Another aspect of Chilliwack’s history that is not quite as evident is its long military tradition. During World War II, the Canadian Army established a base in Chilliwack called Military Camp Chilliwack, though it was later renamed Canadian Forces Base Chilliwack (CFB Chilliwack) Camp Chilliwack, as it was commonly known, existed as the only military land forces base in BC, serving to protect our country and train army units for over half a century.
If you’re not familiar with Chilliwack’s history, you may not be able to immediately discern the military’s influence in the city following the closure of CFB Chilliwack in 1998. However, its presence is still there hidden in plain sight, preserved in time while the city moves to its next chapter.
The area where Canadian Forces Base Chilliwack was once located, Vedder, which is the south part of the Sardis neighbourhood, has now given way to a new community. Among the commercial and residential development, roughly half of CFB Chilliwack’s 400 acres now exists as Canada Education Park, which is a congregation of a number of educational institutions and training facilities.
Able to retain some of the existing buildings at CFB Chilliwack, among the first facilities to open at Canada Education Park was the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Pacific Region Training Centre (RCMP PRTC), which opened in 2001. With a sizeable 60 acres, the facility trains 6,000 officers and employees every year. As it continues to push forward, the RCMP PRTC recently built a new modern indoor firing range.
The first educational institution at the Canada Education Park was the Justice Institute of BC (JIBC), which opened in 2003. As the leading public safety educator, this post-secondary institution offers training to justice and social services professionals. Acknowledged worldwide for its applied training and education, the JIBC plans to broaden its programs to provide more selection of courses.
By far the largest presence at Canada Education Park in terms of size and recognition is the University of Fraser Valley (UFV). Established its campus at Canada Education Park in 2012, the university occupies 85 acres which house its LEED Gold-certified buildings with striking design, including one that won the World Architecture News (WAN) Education Awards in 2013. In addition to its large classrooms, the UFV Chilliwack campus is equipped with a variety of amenities, including a full dental clinic and a black box theatre.
Other facilities that form the Canada Education Park include the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the City of Chilliwack, Canada Lands Company and Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation. With state-of-the-art facilities, Canada Education Park has attracted over 18,000 students in 2020 with its vision to innovate.
Even with its eye on the future, the city’s military history is not forgotten. We are fortunate to have the freedoms provided to us from all who passed through Camp Chilliwack. Upon the same land used by those who supported our communities in times of hardship, we are fortunate to have a vision for development as we continue to educate those who will lead us in the future.
Whether you’re looking to live a quaint neighbourhood steeped in history or a forward-looking development teeming with innovation, Chilliwack has a little bit of something for everybody. To find the neighbourhood with a character that suits you, there’s no better place to turn than to a REALTOR® with over two decades of experience in Chilliwack. For an enlightening perspective of the neighbourhoods in the city, get in touch with Bryan Van Hoepen to see how his team can help you.