Four B.C. post-secondary institutions to collaborate on social infrastructure development

June 11, 2018

By Wan Yee Lok

B.C. post-secondary institutions are collaborating in a groundbreaking initiative to strengthen communities through social infrastructure development.

Today, four of the province’s leading post-secondary institutions committed to establish the B.C. Collaborative for Social Infrastructure. Simon Fraser University (SFU), the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) and Vancouver Island University (VIU) are founding partners of this innovative partnership. The project, supported by the McConnell Family Foundation, will enable the institutions to use their collective energies and strengths to make real, sustainable impact in our communities.

"Canada’s public post-secondary institutions have a huge opportunity, and I believe responsibility, to increase the contributions we make to the communities we serve," says SFU President Andrew Petter. "This project will enable SFU and our partners to share best practices and to test some of the many instruments we can leverage to build social infrastructure."

The collaboration will focus on the following action areas:

  • Green and sustainable campus and community building
  • Indigenous entrepreneurship and social finance
  • Social procurement
  • Library outreach and community scholar programs

"The McConnell Foundation has supported innovation in post-secondary institutions for the past 25 years through such initiatives as the introduction of community service learning. We're pleased to build on this work through our engagement with the B.C. Collaborative for Social Infrastructure," says Stephen Huddart, President and CEO of the McConnell Foundation. "Helping build social infrastructure is a way for universities and colleges to contribute to social and environmental resilience and sustainability, while deepening relationships with their local communities."

McConnell has also funded Universities Canada to create a national platform for universities to gain knowledge concerning social infrastructure development.

The four institutions will share practices and policies to encourage progress and to determine how initiatives can be scaled-up and enhanced. The institutions plan to create a community of practice that can be shared with other post-secondary institutions in B.C. and across Canada.

The initiative has its origins in a roundtable hosted by SFU and McConnell in 2017 attended by university presidents and foundation representatives from across Canada.