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UBC -- Sells out the Alumni

Wildlife News

Dec 3/05 UPDATE: a great many responses have come in here (our WEB site) after I posted this item and it was picked up by many press and other WEB servers for distrilbution: This travesty has pricked a few ears and rightfully! Now newly attachd are the minutes of the meeting between UBC, its realators and the Public at a very "public restricted" meeting. I see nothing less than saving this incredible piece of land as a Park as acceptable -- the Government ministers must stand up to the plate and be counted! ---{{{{ Seeking to have the new owners show responsibility is TOTAL NON-SENSE! A buck is a buck as we see UBC stating so clearly and unconsciencely. The ONLY solution is total preservation of this site as Parkland.}}}--- DONORS BEWARE -- UNIVERSITY SELLS OFF LAND GIFTS FOR QUICK PROFIT.


A November 28, 2005 meeting in Campbell River of the UBC / Realty company and the Community members accentuates the behind the scenes shannigans that UBC has been invoilved in. The minutes of the meeting presented below show:

--- That UBC largely kept the sale secretive from the community.

--- UBC did not even tell its tenants such as the hatchery and numerous community volunteer based organizations using the property of the pending sale.

--- the Campbell River Meeting was not open but RESTRICTED to only 1 member of a few community groups involved in the use of the property or working within the community as a whole.

My conclusion, and I don't have to live in the community and have to face Realators unhappy at the prospects of loosing a jewel to sell or pay dues to UBC greedy policies, is that I want people who might be contemplating donations to the University -- and this might well apply to any University or Alumni -- to give second thoughts to this. Are your donations going to be a continuing asset to the community as you hope or be sold off as some greedy financial manager sees fit? In this case the Oyster River Farm has been a contributor and receipient of hundereds of thousands of hours of donated time and dollars to develop the projects on its grounds. It has been a community asset and should remain one.

Perhaps the government should simple step in and pay the University a reasonable price for the property and turn in officially into a park -- it largely is and has been one for the community for years and should remain that.

The details of the limited access meeting are attached immediate below:


Colliers, UBC & Community Meeting 1:50 – 4 pm Monday, November 28, 2005 Montfort House, Campbell River, B.C. Purpose:

Citizens met with UBC & Colliers International to discuss the sale of UBC Farms Meeting began 1:50 pm instead of 1:30 because of a delayed flight from Vancouver. Chaired by Kathy Campbell, 22 others present

Byron Brayley, Associate Vice President, Treasury & Business Development Tom Gunn, UBC Investment Management Trust Scott McRae, UBC Public Affairs Patricia Stevens, Office of Vice President, Administration & Finance Ron and Leslie Shann, UBC Farm Managers Colliers International: Mark Lester, Vice President Representative Community Groups in attendance: Fisheries & Oceans Canada, Comox Valley Naturalists, Oyster River Enhancement Society (ORES), Oyster River Watershed Management Committee (ORWMC), Woodhus Slough Restoration Society, Oyster Bay Park Association, Comox Valley Farmers’ Institute, Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Comox Valley Woodlot Association, Blacktail Enterprises (Upper Farm Tenant), Nature Trust of B.C., Area C residents, Pacific Salmon Foundation Participants: List available from Kathy Campbell Attendance at this Meeting: Community participants were a subset of the community group that met on Wednesday November 23rd to address concern about the farm sale. This group was brought together to discuss the sale of the UBC Farm’s upper and lower sites. Attendance at this meeting was restricted at the request of Colliers International.

Introductions: Tom Gunn presented on behalf of the University. Harold Macy presented on behalf of the community participants.

Colliers, UBC & Community Meeting Monday November 28, 2005 Montfort House, Campbell River, B.C. University Presentation:

UBC ceased farming the site in 1999 and a decision was made by the university to offer the farm for sale.

Colliers International was retained by UBC as the agent for the sale. UBC indicated that the announcement of sale of the property has been broadly circulated both nationally and internationally. UBC has been approached by a number of interested parties all from BC, one being another educational institution. UBC chose to market this property as one unit and has provided buyers a clear understanding of the public interest and the agricultural land reserve status. The local advertisement the was the final announcement of the sale. Money from the sale of the property will be used for research and education.

The priorities in evaluating the proposals are as follows:

1. Acceptable price 2. Ability of purchaser to close the sale 3. Recognition of community issues.

Expressions of Interest have been reviewed and UBC and found several offers to be acceptable. UBC plans to take the offers to their board on Friday December 2, approval by the Minister of advanced Education is expected early in the New Year. Sec 50

Community Presentation:

For over 40 years the Oyster River Farm has been the heart of this rural community. Harold Macy presented the concerns of over 20 different groups representing hundreds of citizens who could not attend this meeting.

Community recognizes the right of the university to manage its assets in accordance with its needs, and the responsibility to obtain the best return to the university. There are also other returns that may be equally rewarding to the university. There is confusion between public and private ownership surrounding this land. Many people believe that because UBC is a publicly funded institution it is accountable to the citizens of this province. The community perception rightly or wrongly views the Oyster River farmlands as a common resource. The community has historical, financial, and personal interest in this property. There have been considerable public and private investment in this land as well as countless hours of volunteer time that have been invested by community members and public institutions.

Much of the anxiety about the closure and sale of the farm has arisen from the community’s inability to access information and from the unfamiliar method of notification about the farm sale.

We would like to see that:

1. Covenants or leases be place on the deed before the sale of the land to protect historical, financial and personal equity on the farm.

2. Prospective buyers be made aware of the covenants and residual public interest in these lands.

3. A third party, such as a local land trust be designated to work with any purchaser as a liaison between the local community and any development on the lands.


DH Editorial Comment interjected: I think anything less that turning this jewel into a community / regrional / provincial Park is an outright sin and contrary to the spirit of the original gift --- SHAME ON UBC! The community is again short selling the future generations if they settle for anything less. Such an jewel will never come again -- it will take another glaciation and several thousand years of weathering! Where are the politicians? Hiding from resonsibility?

============= back to the minutes of the meeting ==============

In return for these acts of good faith, the community will endeavor to refine their concerns and provide guidance to the continued stewardship of these lands.

Colliers, UBC & Community Meeting Monday November 28, 2005 Montfort House, Campbell River, B.C.

A discussion session followed with UBC and Colliers representatives responding to questions from community participants.

Announcement of the Sale:

--- UBC has received expressions of interest about the sale of the farm since 1999.

--- The last announcement of the sale was placed in the local paper on November 8, 2005

--- The Regional District Chief Administrative Officer, Mr. Bob Long was informed of the sale prior to the advertisement.

--- None of the organizations or the tenants involved in the farm were personally notified of the imminent sale of the farm.

Prospective Buyers: Colliers will not identify parties who have submitted expressions of interest however all serious offers have come from Vancouver Island. The property has not yet been sold. Colliers would not state the asking price for the property but did say that several expressions of interest were within the range expected by the university.

Covenants or Leases Prior to Sale of the Farm: UBC suggests the groups who operate or have an interest on the farm will be better off to deal with the new owner. UBC is not prepared to encumber the property with leases or covenants on the sale process prior to sale. Mark Lester, Colliers International, indicated he has spoken to the prospective buyers and they have verbally indicated their willingness to work with the community. UBC has embarked on the sale process is not interested in consolidating the land parcels on the lower farm prior to the sale.

Sale Process: Expressions of interest will go before committee on Friday December 2, 2005. Recommendations of this committee will go before UBC Board of Directors on Friday December 9, 2005.

The Ministry of Advanced Education must approve the sale and a ruling on the sale is expected before the end of January.

Investments by Public Agencies: Tim Clermont from the Nature Trust of BC and Chris Hilliar from the DFO are concerned about their organizations’ monetary contribution on the property being dismissed by the new owner. Their organizations’ agreements were made with UBC in good faith as one public institution to another. Once UBC is no longer involved this history is lost. The contributions have also increased in value as they were made a number of years ago. There is also the issue of the crown land on the foreshore and the Ministry of Forests research sites on the upper farm were not acknowledged by UBC in the properties prospectus.

Protection of Public Access: UBC plans on using moral suasion on the new owner to protect the assets and the interests of the community. The new owner will decide when/if they will meet with the community. UBC acknowledges

Montfort House may not remain open in the longer term. UBC feels it has given 35-40 years in this community and this contribution has gone unacknowledged, however the north Island community feels the assets of the self-supporting north island farm have been taken away from their rural community and transferred to the urban community.

Colliers, UBC & Community Meeting Monday November 28, 2005 Montfort House, Campbell River, B.C. Survey of Crown Land on Foreshore: A surveyor has been retained to do a title search and to determine the true boundaries of crown land on the foreshore near Woodhus Slough. Public Investment on UBC Farmlands: UBC does not expect to compensate any agency for public funds invested in the farm. These grants were given to UBC and the money was used for its intended purpose. Nature Trust Grant and Riparian Habitat: In 1987 $20,000 was granted to UBC for purchase of riparian habitat along the Oyster River. The Nature Trust is not listed on the title of this property. UBC refused previous offers to log the upper farm site, but has the right to dispose of this property as a private asset because the money was granted to UBC. Woodhus Slough The slough is filling in and unless the pond is opened up to the ocean before the sale of land this habitat will be lost. UBC suggested that the community work with the new owners to reopen the slough. Closing Statements: Tom Gunn delivered the closing statement for UBC UBC has been a good landlord and has allowed public access on its land. It has met the obligations of the original bequest and has now decided that that best use for this asset would be to sell the property and dedicate the funds to education and research. The new owners want to be good members of the community and UBC will use moral suasion to encourage them to protect public access and environmental values. Harold Macy delivered the closing statement for the Community UBC is now aware of our concerns regarding the method and timing of the sale. There remains a disagreement on how to best protect public equity and interest in this property. While UBC/Colliers are to be commended for their intention to sell the land to a purchaser who will continue its agricultural use the fact remains that this farm is composed of 14 legal parcels of land. Although UBC is selling the farm as one parcel there is nothing to stop the new owner from breaking the farm up and selling individual parcels. While the land would remain in the agricultural land reserve the parcels could become too small to be productive for commercial agriculture. The community would like to see leases or covenants applied to the titles prior to the sale of this land and is leery to relinquish this opportunity to enshrine protection. From here the outcome can be political, legal and confrontational or cooperative and mutually beneficial. The ball is in UBC’s court. Tom Gun and Byron Brayley suggested that community members express their concerns in writing to the President, and board secretary instead of the chancellor of the university. Meeting adjourned 4 pm.



UBC has sparked great controversy and brought into doubt why people should donate to their cause.

The following documents describe how an incredible gift of 1755 acres to the University for long tern research and community use is now being sold off for a profit. The details of this betrayal should make anybody considering giving donations to the university, either directly or via the UBC Alumni Association, pause for second thought. Were you wanting to leave a legacy or make a dollar donation? If the property was for the community, as this property was and has been developed, then perhaps UBC is not a good repository. For the ugly details read the following:



UBC Farm Sale Leaves Community Interests Hanging

The inappropriately small advertisement buried in the back section of local papers announcing the sale of the UBC farmlands was not seen by many people. This “notice of courtesy” came as a surprise to neighbours, concerned citizens, and tenants of the farm, and the groundswell of response it sparked must have come as quite a surprise to UBC and their sales agents, Colliers International.

The notice allowed 5 business days for Comox Valley residents and 2 business days for Campbell Riverites to respond with statements of interest leaving many local people to think that by the time we heard about it the sale was already a done deal.

The 1,755 acres of UBC Oyster River Farm (upper and lower farmlands) comprising 14 different deeds are being sold as one offering to provide funds for UBC. This land has not been actively farmed by UBC since the dairy herd and milk quota were moved from Vancouver Island to Agassiz in 1999. Barrett Montfort willed most of this land to UBC in 1962 requiring the university to farm the land for 20 years. There are many people who now regret this bequest wishing that it came with stronger commitments to farming, to the community, and with protection for the Woodhus slough and the other sensitive habitat that surrounds the farm.

Over the past 40 years, the local community has developed strong ties with the farm. A research and education facility trained young farmers, it was the home of sustainable forestry research, a centre for school programs, and the location of the popular pub to pub trail linking the Oyster River Regional park with the newly acquired RDCS lands near Salmon Point. It is the most popular trail in the area, used by people from Campbell River to Union Bay.

The upper farm has also been the home for the Oyster River Enhancement Society and the 300+ volunteers who have been working since the early 1980s to restore salmon to the Oyster River. They have been successful due to the thousands of hours of volunteer effort that went into the work, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars of grant money that was invested in the project. This grant money includes $20,000 that was paid by the Nature Trust of B.C. for the protection of riparian habitat along the Oyster River in 1987.

On Monday November 28th a group of concerned citizens and community groups met with UBC and Colliers International to learn more about the impending sale. What we heard offered no comfort. While UBC stated the sale was proceeding, they would not say how much the land was selling for or who had made offers to buy it. What they did say was that the offers were being presented to a UBC committee on Friday December 2, and that a week later on December 9th the recommendations of this committee would go to the UBC Board of Governors for approval of the purchaser.

UBC is not interested in putting any leases or covenants in place to protect,or at least acknowledge the longstanding public equity in the property because it would not be in the university’s best interest to do so. They do not want to consolidate the lower parcels into a larger parcel to protect ALR land because this will devalue the property. There is no tax advantage to them, as they do not have to pay tax on the land.

Done deal. Or is it?

There are several outstanding issues that need to be settled before the sale is complete. The Woodhus slough and the boundaries of the crown land along the foreshore need to be legally surveyed. The sale also needs to be approved by the Ministry of Advanced Education. None of this offers any security to the community. There are very close ties between the Ministry of Advanced Education and UBC as Dr. Moura Quayle former UBC Dean of Agriculture at the time the farm was closed is now the Deputy Minister for Advanced Education, the same ministry that must approve the sale of the farm.

We are not opposed to UBC making the most of their investments or providing for their students, but they must recognize the major commitment that our community has made to this land and not to pass these concerns off, expecting a new owner to protect habitat and public interest when UBC will not. Once the property is sold will the new owner close the pub to pub trail, cut off access to Oyster River Enhancement Society, log the timber along the river, or not? Colliers and UBC ask us to trust them to sell to an owner who will respect our interests, but how can we expect the new owner to do what UBC is unwilling to do itself?

I think that UBC president Dr. Martha Piper and, Minister of Advanced Education Murray Coell, should hear what our communities have to say about this sale.

Time is short so now is the time to send a strong message about how important this land is to our community.

For more information please contact: Kathy Campbell Fisheries Biologist

7430 Rodger Road

Merville, B.C. V0R 2M0

(250) 337-0005


This is my personal request for you to copy and send this information to anyone who might be concerned -- or contemplating a gift to a University. It might be a wrong decision. Having been a graduate student when this donation was being contemplated I got to go over the property in the early 1960's and always considered this donation a great civic jesture -- land of this importance to a community is a treasure beyond being a saleable commodity. Selling this off should end anybody ever giving land to a University Endowment or Alumni --- short tern dollars, and not community values, are what speak loudest. I would not be so generous in my position of NOT STOPPING THE SALE -- it should be stopped -- or the property donated to the Province or Region for continued parkland. Would we want to sell Stanley Park? The White Rock waterfront? Whats left of the Victoria Causeway? David Hancock ===============================================

Actions for Anyone Concerned About the Sale of the UBC Farmland

This is not about stopping the sale, it is about ensuring that we still have access to the things that we value on the land after the land is sold. It is about asking UBC to “walk the talk” about their commitment to community and environment.

Why should we expect that any new owner should give habitat and access rights back to the community when UBC is unwilling to do so?

Unless we let them know where we are, why we are concerned, and what we want. We will only get what they give us.

If you:

Ø Want to be sure that the pub to pub trail stays open Ø Care about the Oyster River Enhancement Society hatchery staying open Ø Want to protect habitat in Woodhus Slough or along the foreshore

Or if you:

Ø Want to be sure that the public continues to have access to Montfort House

Ø Are concerned about the land remaining in the Agricultural Land Reserve

Ø Are worried about the eagle trees, and other fish & wildlife habitat on the farm

Ø Or just feel that UBC should be giving something back to the community

We suggest that you let these people hear your opinion:

UBC: for more links


Martha C. Piper, President and Vice Chancellor of UBC

University of British Columbia

6328 Memorial Road

Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z2

Phone: 604 822-5055

Ø Ask Martha about why UBC is not addressing it commitment to sustainability and working with communities before they sell this land.


Spencer Keys President UBC Alumni Association 238L - Student Union Building


Office Phone: 604.822.3972

> Ask Spencer what the UBC Alumni feel about UBC wanting top dollar for the property and failing to give tenure to trail, hatchery and habitat before the sale.


Careers in Professional Agriculture Dr. Maureen Garland Office Phone: 604.822.5072

Dept. Phone: 604.822.2492


Ø Why is UBC not willing to consolidate the land parcels in the lower farm to strengthen the chances of this land being used for farming in the future.


Ministry of Advanced Education: Murray Coell

Phone: 250 356-2771

Fax: 250 356-3000

PO Box 9059


Victoria BC

V8W 9E2


0 Send a letter to the Editor:


UBC Public Affairs Journal UBC Public AffairsM

310 - 6251 Cecil Green Park Road, Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z1

tel 604.822.3131 | fax 604.822.2684 | e-mail



UBC’s official student newspaper.

Ø Why is the business and real estate arm of UBC not sensitive to the needs of the community. Ask them to ask UBC why they don’t “tidy up the title” before the land is sold instead of passing the responsibility for protecting habitat and public access on to someone else.


List of B.C. Newspapers Online: You can reach any newspaper you want with a letter to the editor from here.

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