Squamish wins private university Whistler beaten out but still expresses interest in future collaboration By Oona Woods Squamish has been chosen over Whistler and Nelson as the location for a new $100 million private university. Whistler council "worked hard with the university proponents, but felt they were asking for too much," Mayor Hugh O’Reilly said at Monday’s council meeting. Whistler council passed on its congratulations to Squamish and added that they see potential for further collaboration in the future. Whistler, Squamish and Nelson were short listed by the university development committee last month, with the final decision being announced on Dec. 7. Whistler was one of the first areas to be approached by ex-UBC President Dr David Strangway who is spearheading the development with intentions of constructing a liberal arts and sciences facility to serve between 800 and 1,200 students in residence. The university will be the first private, non-religion-based university in Canada. Tuition is expected to be about $25,000 per year. In addition to tuition fees, the 100 acre operation will rely on a residential housing development for 2,000 to generate revenue for the project. While Whistler’s council didn’t feel it could accommodate the request for a large, serviced parcel of land, Squamish had five developers come forward expressing interest in hosting the campus. No one site has been given the final green light yet. "This was a very difficult decision for us to make in that all three of our short-listed communities have been extremely welcoming and supportive of this project," said Strangway. "However, commitments made by Squamish Mayor Corinne Lonsdale, and unanimously supported by her council, address all the essential requirements of our university project." The District of Squamish has been very keen on the proposal from the start, offering a number of different sites as possibilities and offering to hire a project manager to ensure complete communication between the municipality and Strangway’s development team. Negotiations will begin immediately to complete a formal agreement to locate the university in Squamish. Strangway hopes to have the school open in four years. Strangway indicates that relations with Whistler are still friendly and there is the potential for more negotiation. "Although Whistler was unable to accommodate the requirements for a private university due to their development limitations, they have communicated their strong support for our project and their desire for future affiliations," Strangway said. O’Reilly said at Monday’s council meeting that he hopes once the university is up and running Whistler could be considered as a satellite location for some courses using existing facilities.