Why a Land Trust

Purpose and Contribution to UNBC

Exterior photo of the main UNBC campus

The primary purposes of the UNBC Land Trust are enhancing the campus community, building a sense of place and consequently destination, and creating a new source of revenue to support academic, research, and operational excellence.

Land Trust Historic Examples

University of British Columbia

The pioneer of university real-estate development.  It began in 1984 with the first residential project, led by Board of Governors member and real estate investor, Robert Lee. It generated an $81 million profit for the university. 

UBC expects to have amassed $675 million from real estate profits as of this academic year and as much as $2 billion in the next 20 years, depending on market conditions and the timing of development. It has used $350 million of these funds to invest in student housing.  

Simon Fraser University

Plans to have just under 10,000 residents overall in its UniverCity development. It has far exceeded its original revenue goals. The community trust endowment fund now has a capital balance of $41 million, the proceeds of which go to support various research initiatives. 

Thompson Rivers University

Created to enhance campus life for the university’s students and add vibrancy to the campus for all who visit it. Ninety acres will be developed as a multi-generational community in a mix of residential, commercial, retail and hospitality units.  Over the next 30 years, the university campus is expected to become home to 7,500 new residents and offer 40,000 square feet of new lifestyle amenities to serve the community. 

University of Guelph

Created in 1991 now includes an adult lifestyle community, two research parks and retail space.  In 2013, it had value of $82 million. It has contributed more than $20 million in dividends to the university to pay for various strategic initiatives. 

University of New Brunswick

8,000 acres of endowment land in 13 locations. Initially started commercial development on various parcels in the late 1990s, after which the institution moved to a successful leasing model.  

Since then, UNB has dedicated some of its land to a nature conservancy, some for a shopping centre that includes a Home Depot and a Costco, and some for a development called Knowledge Park that is intended to help support high-tech businesses.  

The revenue, about $750,000 a year, is earmarked for improvements to the university in areas like accessibility and sustainability. 

Attribution: Universities as real-estate developers, University Affairs article BY FRANCES BULA | NOV 28 2017 

UNBC Land Trust Timelines


  • Campus Master Plan, Adoption by Board of Governors 
  • Land Appraisal (proposed 46 acres), Market & Marketability Study 


  • Decision on preferred legal structure (Business/Land Trust) and approval for creation of such Trust 
  • Request to incorporate a B.C. business corporation to act as corporate trustee for Land Trust 
  • BOG approval to re-animate the UNBC Foundation as second beneficiary of Land Trust 
  • Appointment of the Board of Directors of the UNBC Land Development Corporation 


  • Corporate Trustee (UNBC Land Development Corporation) incorporated 
  • Land Trust settled 
  • $450,000 loan to UNBC Land Trust, over three years and in the form of a Promissory Note and associated General Security Agreement 
  • Planning consultant engaged to lead consultative visioning process at UNBC 
  • Connection established with Lheidli T’enneh to help steer efforts 
Exterior photo of a UNBC building with a nice red leafed tree in front