Statement by the District of Squamish on the Quest University Canada Agreement with Primacorp

The District of Squamish wishes to express its concern over the recent Quest University Canada announcement about a signed agreement with Primacorp Ventures Inc. Under the terms of the agreement, Primacorp will own the campus buildings and lands, which Quest will lease.

The District and Quest (whose name has changed from its initial years) have a 20-year history of cooperation and shared vision, and the early actions of the District helped to bring the university into existence. The District’s early support through a Memorandum of Understanding signed in June 2000 and subsequent agreements after that, included an expedited change to the Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw, the waiving of Development Cost Charges on private development until 2015, waived property taxes for the University, and an investment of over $5 million in infrastructure to bring municipal services to the University. The District’s early investments were made, and ongoing support provided, because of its shared vision that a reputable and ground-breaking university on those lands would bring social and economic benefits to the community.

“We are deeply concerned that the agreement signed does not reflect the District’s interests , creates an uphill runway for Quest that will make it difficult for it to be viable given the ongoing challenges related to the pandemic, possibly reduces student refunds and faculty severances as unsecured creditors, and leaves a for-profit company controlling the lands, instead of a university of significant standing should Quest not succeed,” says District of Squamish Mayor, Karen Elliott. “We know there are other proponents, which include Capilano University, actively pursuing an agreement with Quest which would more closely align with the vision we have supported for those lands for many, many years. There is no assurance that the spirit of our original agreements will be honoured under this agreement with Primacorp.” 

The District is also concerned that the current residence buildings that provide student housing on the campus are not included in the deal. In a community where affordable housing is one of the growing municipality’s biggest challenges, ensuring the availability of affordable student housing will play a key role in the future success of the university. 

“The uniqueness of the University has always been recognized and cherished by the District as we have worked to support the realization of Dr. Strangway’s vision for an internationally-renowned university,” continues Elliott. “We know Quest staff and the Board of Governors have the best of intentions, but I believe more due diligence is required and I have grave concerns over the future of the University’s brand, reputation and ultimate success, and will continue to engage with Quest leadership to ensure our voice is heard.”

November 10, 2020

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  • Mariam Li Dec 1, 2020, 9:12 AM (3 months ago)

    As an international education industry advocator, I would think that the great concerns from the Squamish District are valid and should be heard.

  • Johannes Bodendorfer Nov 10, 2020, 3:10 PM (4 months ago)

    Dear District Team,

    This statement demonstrates a clear lack of understanding for the process that Quest went through getting to this point. There are plain falsehoods in this statement that are not true. As elected officials, I expect better from you. Much better.

    A statement like this hinders Quests future success, and undermines the hard work that staff, students, and faculty have put into this deal. If the Mayor is indeed concerned about our future, this action has done absolutely nothing to support this.

    Do better. I could not be more disappointed in such a sloppy response from an official channel.

    • Peter Harris Nov 10, 2020, 8:07 PM (4 months ago)

      I believe the district in fact has a clear understanding of “what went on” to get to this point. Your statement is a blanket condemnation of the districts stance and longstanding agreements. The districts and mayors comments reflect very real and present issues and their pitfalls. Perhaps instead of sloppily calling them “untruths” you should be more pointed and specific by itemizing those you believe untrue. We shall await that list. Until then ...

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