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Editorial: CapU's Quest Purchase — a beacon of hope amidst troubled history

Quest's legacy endures as CapU breathes new life into its campus.
Quest University signs were covered on the morning of Aug. 16 by new Capilano University signage, as the North Van school announced its purchase of the former Squamish private school's campus.

Capilano University buying the former Quest University lands from Primacorp Ventures is the best possible outcome in the sordid tale.

It brings back affordable public post-secondary education to the Sea to Sky, which has been lacking since CapU left several years ago.

Kudos to all those who made this deal a reality, including the provincial government, which threw in $48 million in funding of the $63.2 million sale price.

This exuberance for the outcome does not negate the dismay expressed by Quest alums prior to the announcement on Aug. 16.

Alumni such as Jake Henderson called for the deal to be halted until the questionable backstory of what happened behind the scenes during Quest’s beginning and downfall could be looked into more thoroughly.

That didn’t happen, but the former students aren’t wrong.

This exciting CapU announcement was on the very grounds sullied by a financial Quest mess that may just well end up in the courts.

The former students also wanted recognition of their loss, an understanding that what Quest was at its peak was beloved and meaningful to many — faculty, students, admin staff and families alike.

And they wanted some sort of acknowledgement that former and potential students were wronged.

They didn’t get that.

Other than when asked specifically, no officials spoke publicly about the former school during the CapU and Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills announcement.

It is a true shame what happened to Quest.

Its revolutionary education system — it was the first independent, not-for-profit, secular liberal arts and science university in Canada  — inspired and will continue to inspire many. Its small class sizes, personalized approach and block rotation system were not the reason the school had to cease operations in the spring. Financial issues brought it down.

However, pausing the recent deal that allowed affordable public education in Squamish would have been a massive loss for the community.

Now, students who may have had to leave the community for post-secondary education can remain in the Sea to Sky Corridor.

At a time when inflation is squeezing already strained folks in this town, and the cost of housing is so high, a chance to have youth stay and learn in their hometown is fantastic news.

And that the deal was made with close collaboration with Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) bodes well for its future, as does the possibility of a desperately needed childcare centre and ECE training on the reinvigorated campus.

What happened at Quest is sad, and at the same time, Capilano University setting up on its footprint is a great victory.

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