GRE Letter - September 30, 2013

September 30, 2013

Honourable Amrik Virk, Minister of Advanced Education
Ministry of Advanced Education
PO Box 9080 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, British Columbia V8W 9E2

Dear Honourable Amrik Virk,

The Simon Fraser Student Society has undertaken the largest student-led project in its history. This initiative, called Build SFU, is a $65 million project to construct a student union building and stadium at our Burnaby campus. This facility will elevate Simon Fraser University’s status as a school of choice in Canada and will enhance British Columbians’ valuable investment in post-secondary education.

Undergraduate students have voted to fund this project through a new levy. Commencing January 2014, funding for the Build SFU project will be collected through a levy that starts at $10 per semester and increases by $10 annually. In 2022, the levy will cap at $90 per semester. This student levy will finance the entire project and will be collected for at least 25 years.

Given this levy structure, financing will be required to complete the project on schedule. It would be possible for the SFSS to secure funding independently, however, options are extremely limited and we are confident that this will result in higher levels of interest. While the exact interest differential is currently unknown and may appear insignificant from the outside, it is the priority of the Simon Fraser Student Society to ensure that student dollars are devoted directly to the building and maintenance of this legacy project, rather than being diverted to paying down the interest accrued on loans. We see it as our role to protect the significant investment that students have agreed to make in the project.

Simon Fraser University wishes to provide this income guarantee for the Build SFU initiative, but as a government reporting entity they will require approval from the Ministry in order to do so. We are aware that the inclusion of post-secondary institutions as government reporting entities is a very complex and non-partisan issue. We also recognize such an approval depends on complex policy, even legislative considerations, but believe a solution is possible with dedicated work from all stakeholders—including industry partners who contribute expertise and labour for these large infrastructure projects.

We ask the Ministry to support our request to allow Simon Fraser University to income guarantee the Build SFU loan, and would be glad to meet with you to discuss the matter further. We look forward to working collaboratively with the Ministry of Advanced Education and the Ministry of Finance on this matter and thank the Government of British Columbia for their continued investment in the knowledge economy.

On behalf of the Simon Fraser Student Society,

Chardaye Bueckert
External Relations Officer
604-349-0971 | ero@sfss.ca

c. Ms. Sandra Carroll, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Advanced Education
Hon. Christy Clark, Premier
Hon. Michael de Jong, Minister of Finance
Hon. Andrew Wilkinson, Minister of Technology and Innovation
Mr. David Ebby, Advanced Education Critic
Mr. Mike Farnworth, Finance Critic
Ms. Mable Elmore, Deputy Finance Critic
Mr. Adrian Dix, Leader of the BC NDP
Dr. Jane Shin, Burnaby-Lougheed MLA