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Whistler U?

Educators eye town as locale for new university

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If Doug Player and former University of Victoria president David Strong have it their way, Whistler could become a university town.

The two men are proposing to place a university on the Alpha Creek Lands near Function Junction, an area currently zoned for four single family homes.

The university would host both undergraduate and graduate programs, with a focus on tourism, leadership and business executives.

Player, a retired superintendent of the West Vancouver school district, sees Whistler as a perfect breeding ground to develop professionals.

He added that a work experience program could boost the local workforce, with students working in hotels and businesses as part of their studies.

Player and Strong have yet to take the proposal to Whistler Council but have already received opposition from Mayor Ken Melamed.

Melamed said the university does not fit in the Whistler’s community plan and has raised concerns about its environmental impact on the Alpha Lands.

This is not Whistler’s first proposal for a university.

David Strangway approached the resort municipality about five years ago to locate Quest University in town. At that time, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) asserted it was a no-growth community, and Quest University has since opened its doors in Squamish.

As recently as February 2007, the University of Canada West proposed a private university on the property that could serve up to 1,000 students. That proposal was also rejected.

Jon Zen owns the 77-acre property near Function Junction where the university would be built, and Player anticipates the university would only use 25 acres.

If built, the proposed university would be a satellite of University Canada West, a private, for profit university which currently offers classes in Victoria and Vancouver.

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