Almost 100 years ago, the government of British Columbia set aside land that the university could develop in support of its interests.
The campus was originally envisioned as an academic hub at the centre of a residential community. Revenue generated would support university operations and provide nearby housing. That original vision resulted in some development of the University Endowment Lands (UEL) in the 1920's thru 1950's. Other parts of the UEL have since become parkland (Pacific Spirit Regional Park).

Many decades later, Bob Lee, a UBC alumnus and then a new member of the UBC Board of Governors, suggested that it was time to fulfill that long-term promise on the 1,000 acres that the University still owns. But his key inspiration was to follow principles of sustainability that recognize social, environmental and financial imperatives in support of the university's academic mission.

Socially: move from commuter campus to complete community, with places to live, learn and recreate.

Environmentally: put housing walkably close to work and study, while honouring the magnificent peninsula setting and hydrology of the landscape.

Financially: don't sell the residential land - lease it for 99 years, so that it generates perpetual support for students, teachers and researchers, providing a margin of excellence otherwise unattainable.

The University Board of Governors created UBC Properties Trust to put these principles into practice in everything they do.