In 2018 Vancouver Island University (VIU) structured an independent corporation (VIU Initiatives Corporation) whose sole purpose is to operate as the sole trustee of the VIU Initiatives Trust (Trust). The Trust operates as a profitable business enterprise that will evaluate and undertake various income-earning business opportunities, ultimately benefiting VIU and the VIU Foundation, the sole beneficiaries of the Trust.
VIU is not the first university to establish an income generating trust, VIU follows in the steps of the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and Thompson Rivers University.
VIU Initiatives Trust undertakes initiatives to create net income generating opportunities and partnerships. Future initiatives that are possible but not yet developed include market housing/student housing/retail complexes, food services, First Nation economic partnerships and social innovation enterprises.
- VIU Initiatives Trust will be engaged in commercial activity with a mission that will include making profits to be allocated to its beneficiary(ies). The Trust has the discretion to make distributions to only one of the beneficiaries or make unequal distributions. If the University were to engage in commercial activity itself, it could lose its status as a registered charity.
- VIU is part of the Government Reporting Entity and is currently not authorized to borrow funds from third parties to undertake initiatives (such as real estate development). As a government business entity, i.e. an independent operation, VIU Initiatives Trust will not be subject to these restrictions.
- The separate corporate trust structure limits VIU’s potential liability and business risk because VIU Initiatives Trust is solely responsible for its own liabilities.
- VIU Initiatives Trust is intended to focus on revenue-generating business activities, so it must have expertise in the specific business areas (real estate development, business start-ups, marketing etc.) necessary to successfully undertake revenue-generating initiatives. Therefore, a separate board for VIU Initiatives Trust is needed to bring this expertise to the table.
- However, control of the VIU Initiatives Trust will be established by parameters set out in the trust documents and the corporation’s articles, as approved by VIU’s Board of Governors.
VIU is the sole shareholder of VIU Initiatives Corporation (the Trustee) and appoints its Board of Directors. The reason the VIU Initiatives Corporation exists is that VIU requires a separate legal entity (VIU Initiatives Corporation) to manage the trust assets in order for the Trust to maintain its status as a Government Business Entity (GBE).
VIU’s 92-acre main campus in Nanaimo, BC, Canada is a city of approximately 90,000 residents, located on Vancouver Island – a tourist destination blessed with the natural beauty of mountains, forests and seashore, a mild climate, and many opportunities for year-round outdoor sport and recreation. Nanaimo is close to the major metropolitan areas of Vancouver and Victoria, providing the best of all worlds to its residents.
Vancouver Island University (VIU) is a place where history and traditions are acknowledged, where contributions are valued and where success is celebrated. Situated on the traditional territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, with campuses in the traditional territories of the Snuneymuxw First Nation (Nanaimo campus), Cowichan Tribes (Cowichan campus), Tla’amin First Nation (Powell River campus) and Snaw-naw-as First Nation (Parksville-Qualicum Centre).