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University confident about donation

More details emerged this week of the Sea to Sky University's fundraising initiatives. Peter Ufford, the Sea to Sky University (SSU) project leader, said on Monday (Jan.

More details emerged this week of the Sea to Sky University's fundraising initiatives.

Peter Ufford, the Sea to Sky University (SSU) project leader, said on Monday (Jan. 12) that a large donation made in January 2002 to fund capital costs was done in a way that is consistent with other large donations by individuals to institutions.

An investigative article in the Vancouver Sun on Jan. 7 revealed that a donation of more than $30 million was made by diamond prospector Stewart Blusson.

The article was triggered by a reporter's discovery of Blusson's name when the miner filed an insider trading report in conjunction with his donation.

Blusson donated stock in a company called Archon Minerals Ltd., not cash, to a foundation connected to SSU, the Sun article claims. Because the donation came in the form of stocks, the insider trading report had to be filed by Blusson.

While Blusson wanted his donation to be anonymous, the required insider trading report pushed his name into the public realm.The SSU project team did its best to keep the donor's name a secret because, Ufford said, it was agreed with the donor that his name wouldn't be revealed.

"The figure of $30 million was publicly announced to [Squamish] council in December," Ufford said.

The SSU project team is not worried about losing the donation now that Blusson is known to be the donor. Ufford said the donation is in the hands of the SSU."There's no question about its value and our ability to receive it," he said. He is confident that SSU will recoup the full value of the donation despite the fact that it exists in the form of stocks.

Archon stock is traded on the TSX Venture Ex-change. Trade in the stock was halted on Oct. 27, 2003. Ufford would not talk about specifics of the Blusson donation but insisted that despite the trading halt the generous donation to the University is not at risk.

"Blusson's cash is needed this year," said Ufford. "A process is in place and there is no question about the value of the gift and the certainty of the gift."

According to Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA) documents, the HSEF Renaissance Academy (a charitable organization affiliated with SSU) has assets valued at $30,520,910.

According to Ufford, the fundraising objective for the capital costs was to raise a large amount of money from a small group of donors. The fundraising initiative was low-key because Ufford said his team did not want to compete with other universities for scarce charitable dollars.

The Blusson donation went a long way to fulfilling the goal of getting a large sum of money from a small number of sources.

The donation is a complicated one because of the fact that the shares need to be converted into cash without impacting the value of the stocks. Another complicating factor is the taxation of the income generated by the stocks. Blusson is avoiding the payment of a significant amount of capitol gains tax by making his donation to SSU.

According to last week's article in the Sun, Blusson made a donation of stocks worth $50 million to UBC in 1998. By making the donation, Ufford confirmed that Blusson avoided capital gains taxes but Ufford also pointed out the way Blusson made the donation is not unusual. Ufford said many other philanthropists use the same technique. The project leader also said that while the donation led to capital gains advantages it was not a "free" donation from Blusson.

The donation was structured by Blake Bromley, the SSU Strategic Counsel and Secretary.

Bromley is currently in provincial court fighting off accusations that he violated the Income Tax Act. Ufford said Bromley's legal matters are completely separate from his work with SSU.

The matters before the courts relate to donations Bromley set up for the Voice of Peace Foundation and a charity called the Howe Sound Samaritans' Foundation (HSSF).

CCRA documents show that the HSSF is a charitable organization, it has an office downtown Vancouver, it claimed no assets in a 2003 information report and it has three directors. Bromley is one of the directors.

The allegations against Bromley are currently being heard by a judge. The complex tax trial is expected to continue for the next four weeks.

Ufford won't reveal how many anonymous donors contributed $500,000 or more to SSU.

"I can't say because it would breach confidentiality agreements," Ufford said. "As we are able to report, we will tell you. I will tell you that there's nothing of this magnitude [$30 million] or this type."

"As we get closer to opening day, some donors will be willing to allow us to properly recognize them for their support for this project."

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