Published monthly by the University Neighbourhoods Association Published monthly by the University Neighbourhoods Association
Volume 3, Issue 1
JANUARY 16, 2012
UNA Board Begins Work on 2012 Agendas
UNA Board Backs Off ‘New Look’ for Hampton Roadway UNA was faced with spending from $9,000 to $300,000 on deteriorating roadway in famed Hampton Place; board decision to go with $43,000 in repairs
UNA Board Members, front row L-R Chair Prod Laquian, Treasurer Ian Burgess, Erica Frank. Back row L-R Mankee Mah, Vice-Chair Thomas Beyer, Nancy Knight and Matt Parson. Agendas for monthly meetings may be found at www.myuna.ca
Prospect of Debt Puts Water Surcharges in Fresh Perspective UBC residents are locked into paying 30% more for water than Vancouver residents; however, debt and liability may be incurred if surcharges are removed In the on-going saga of what campus residents—and to a lesser extent residents of the University Endowment Lands (UEL)—pay for water, the pain of paying a surcharge (30% to UBC residents, 20% to UEL residents) may give way to the greater pain of incurring debt or liabilities. In short, residents both at UBC and in the UEL pay surcharges because they don’t belong to the Greater Vancouver Water District, and in the event they join, they may well have to bear pro rata the same costs as residents of Vancouver (which does belong to the water district) for constantly maintaining and upgrading
installations and pipelines that bring water from the North Shore mountains. Offering reasons why the higher water rates for UBC and UEL residents exist (and in the case of the UEL, at least, have existed since 1949) at the January 10 meeting of the University Neighbourhoods Association, Metro Vancouver director for Electoral Area A Maria Harris said information had come to her from staff at Metro Vancouver who have launched a probe of the UBC and UEL water rates. In regular touch with Metro staff, Ms. Harris said she would make more information available to the UNA as, in turn, more information becomes available to her. As to one reason for the higher price to UEL residents, Ms. Harris said, “It appears the UEL has never paid for the additional water mains or infrastructure required to extend service to them.” Over a lesser period, UBC would appear not to have made such payments either. As to another reason, Ms Harris said, “It appears that the UEL does not have the
same obligations (as members of the water district such as Vancouver) for things such as water district debt.” In the event the UEL—and/or UBC—join the water district, then, they may become liable for debt charges. Evidently, not only does Metro Vancouver have a probe underway into water charges to UEL and UBC residents, so does the UEL have an investigation underway into how its residents have being paying a 20% surcharge for over 60 years without much comment by the local citizenry, and so does UBC have a separate study underway as to why it pays not only the 20% surcharge to Metro Vancouver but also a second 10% surcharge to the UEL. According to a source, the UBC study includes looking at the feasibility to constructing a pipeline that would not run across UEL land—thereby obviating the need for the 10% surcharge UBC pays to the UEL. Please turn to Page 10 for column by Maria Harris about Water Rates at UBC
After 40 minutes of intense discussion, a power-point presentation by an engineer and the urgings of a retired UBCPT employee, the UNA board of directors January 10 backed away from a proposal to spend $300,000 giving the deteriorating roadway in famous Hampton Place a ‘new look’. Employed for many years by UBC Properties Trust (property development arm of UBC), Rob Wood urged the UNA spend $300,000 on the roadway to “bring it up and make it beautiful again.” Mr. Wood said, “Beautifying Hampton Place will keep up property values.”
HAMPTON continued on Page 2.
Start of Tower Strips Kids of Only Playground Chancellor Place playground is converted into construction site for highrise building; development of second playground 100 yards away is still not underway In the world of grievances, the children and toddlers of Chancellor Place at the University of British Columbia have a lot to complain about. Promised a new playground on Iona Green behind the Iona Building before an old playground a hundred yards west was demolished to make way for the construction of a high-rise building, the children have found this has not happened.
PLAYGROUND continued on Page 7.
THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JANUARY 16, 2012
Skate Park Plan for UBC Site Presents Opportunities for Youth Involvement If you know anything about skate parks, you might want to get involved in the design and development of a skate park at UBC. On January 11, UBC and the University Neighbourhoods Association met—as partners—to begin the pre-planning part of putting in a skate park immediately west of the basketball court on Thunderbird Boulevard, and as this process continues, it will offer opportunities for several people to get involved. Working with Newline Skateparks and Van der Zalm Landscape Architects, the
UBC-UNA partnership expects to have a finalized design concept by March 31. Since the project is just getting started, information regarding size and cost of the skate park has not yet become available. Speaking on behalf of UBC and the UNA, Adam Cooper, of UBC, said, “We are really hoping to engage youth from the UNA on this project.” So, if you are interested in this, why not contact Mr. Cooper at adam.cooper@ ubc.ca, and he will be sure to inform you about upcoming engagement opportunities.
HAMPTON continued from Page 1. In graphic detail provided by Declan Rooney, a professional engineer with Hunter Laird Engineers, the seven-member UNA board noted close-up views of damage to both the asphalt covering— and in places—concrete surfacing of the Hampton roadway. Pointing to the virtue of spending $300,000 on repaving Hampton Place, Mr. Rooney argued it would give the stately residential development “a new look.” It would add to it aesthetically, he said. Constructed in 1989, Hampton Place became the first real estate development at UBC, and in the era before an official community plan at UBC, its meandering roadway bespoke luxurious living as much as its elegant homes. However, sparing none of us, the corrosive hand of time has come into play since then, and through constant use by cars, trucks and buses, cracks have appeared in the concrete and holes in the asphalt of the Hampton Place roadway. In open discussion, board members appeared caught between wishing to spend $300,000 to give Hampton Place roadway
a new look on the one hand and being fiscally prudent on the other. Expressing the most prudence in this regard, Thomas Beyer—who chaired the meeting—repeatedly called for the expenditure of only $9,000 (though in the end Mr. Beyer voted with all other directors for the $43,000 sum). Sensitive to the fact that other residential neighbourhoods have come on stream at UBC in recent years, Erica Frank expressed concern that spending $300,000 on the Hampton roadway might be seen by some campus residents as maintaining Hampton to a higher standard than other neighbourhoods. With an eye on the future, Mankee Mah and other directors said stinting on repair costs now might lead only to greater costs in the years ahead. A resident of Hampton Place, Prod Laquian told fellow-board members of his discussions with neighbours about what work the UNA might do in repairing the Hampton roadway. “Thirty per cent of the people I talked to said, ‘Do the whole thing—especially since the UNA is paying’. The other 70% said, ‘There’s nothing much wrong with it. Save your money.”
After 22 years, Hampton Place roadway is deteriorating in places. Repairs in amount of $43,000 are slated.
THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JANUARY 16, 2012
page 3 Published by: University Neighbourhoods Association #202-5923 Berton Avenue, Vancouver, BC V6S OB3
Editor & Business Manager John Tompkins 604.827.3502 JTompkins@myuna.ca
Campus Parking Rules Must Be Fair and Sustainable By Prod Laquian, board chair and president of the UNA Those new ‘No Parking’ signs that went up at the beginning of the year in Hawthorn Place, Chancellor Place and Wesbrook Place highlight once again the problem of parking in UNA neighbourhoods. The dire warning ‘Vehicles Will Be Towed’ has been welcomed by some residents and hated by others. The interim parking rules enforced by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure temporarily solve some parking problems but they do not effectively resolve some basic issues. Integral to the parking problem in the
Viewpoint By Eleanor Laquian, of Hampton Place, on Behalf of Group of Residents Calling themselves ‘Residents for Change’ With the changing times, the UNA now needs more authority to carry out its tasks and less bureaucracy. Unless the current situation is changed, the UNA will remain irrelevant and continue to block governance reform. The UNA, born in dreams of a unique and vibrant community, suffered from three nightmares: (1) “same old- same old” ways of doing things; (2) elected directors too busy to devote time to UNA; and, (3) the apathy of many residents who do not vote or get involved. The UNA Functions The UNA was created “to promote a community that will support and enhance UBC’s academic mission particularly for the common good of the residents”. To date it has enhanced UBC’s academic mission but failed to champion the common good of residents because it has often sided with the University on matters of conflict between UBC and residents. The UNA Board The UNA Board has four elected resident directors on two-year terms, two UBC representatives appointed indefinitely and a student rep who is changed every year. If the UBC reps are primarily watchdogs for UBC, why do they have the same voting rights as elected directors on issues affecting residents whom they do not represent? The current procedures for residents to air concerns are appalling. Residents are required to make appointments to present written submissions in monthly UNA Board meetings. Their presentations are limited to a few minutes. Complaints are
UNA neighbourhood are issues of sustainability and equity. When UBC decided to lease its lands to develop a University Town on campus, it adopted environmental sustainability as a goal. It set as a target that 50 percent of households moving into UTown would have at least one member directly linked to the University as student, faculty or staff. This meant transforming UTown from a commuter campus to that of a sustainable community where residents would limit their use of private vehicles powered by fossil fuels. By design, the UBC campus Land Use Plan and the more detailed Neighbourhood Development Plans expected residents to walk, use bicycles or take public transit. Car use was dis-
couraged by limiting parking in terms of space allocation and by making it costeffective. When residents purchase properties in UTown, the price they pay for each unit includes access to all facilities, including parking. Thus, buyers of more expensive condos will usually have two parking stalls in a parkade while those who buy less expensive units may have one stall. Owners of lower priced units with one parking stall who own more than one vehicle, therefore, will have to meet the costs of finding parking spaces for the additional vehicle or vehicles. The current interim parking rules launched in January, therefore, are not fully congruent with the principles of sustainability and
equity upheld by University Town. Initially, UBC and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure proposed that owners of cars allowed to park on UNA neighbourhood streets should pay at least $69.00 per month per vehicle, which is about the usual amount charged by UBC for parking. After strong objections from organized residents, this parking fee was rescinded in the interim rules. However, when the UNA formulates, approves and implements its own bylaw on parking, it is important to reconsider charges for street parking so that the UNA bylaw will uphold the principles of sustainability and equity integral to the parking issue.
Reforming The UNA acknowledged but UNA follow up is unsatisfactory. The UNA Staff The UNA budgets $704,000 for staff salaries and benefits in 2012-13. It occupies the second floor of a building costing $250,000 of residents’ tax dollars to renovate and $117,000/year to rent for a staff of six. The office closes at 4:30 PM., and volunteers are not allowed to use it after hours (the only time free for working people). Reforms in the UNA 1. The UNA has an opportunity to create a community unlike all others. But it must abandon its slow-moving, inflexible bureaucracy. It should consult residents on problematic issues because UNA solutions are often procedurally easy for bureaucrats but not good for residents. It should not require residents to jump through bureaucratic hoops to air grievances or treat them as troublemakers. It should stop muzzling dissent by censorship of criticisms in its newsletter. 2. The number of directors must be increased commensurate to UTown’s population growth. 3. The UNA must endeavour to bridge the widening gap between UNA and residents with better communication. Website “visits” do not necessarily translate to participation or community engagement. 4. The UBC reps in the Board should have no voting rights except on financial matters affecting UBC; the student rep should likewise vote only on matters affecting the students. 5. The budget consultation was a step in the right direction and should continue. Expenditures above a certain amount (say $100,000) should be announced publicly for transparency and accountability. 6. The UNA cannot provide effective municipal services as long as it is totally dependent on UBC. It should lobby for authority to pass bylaws on noise, ani-
mal control and parking. It should take the leadership in crafting a governance system to suit the unique conditions in UTown and not simply copy other municipalities. 7. In fairness to voters, elected directors should step down if unable to perform their duties. A procedure to de-elect underperforming directors should be included in the revised UNA Constitution. 8. The UNA’s newsletter, The Campus Resident, should focus more on public affairs and less on social events. It should have an Editorial Board composed of an elected director and a resident representative to oversee contents. 9. The UNA should ensure that C&CP mail notices for public hearings 21 days in advance; not just posted in websites, email blasts or newspapers. Furthermore, consultations should start at the conceptual stage of developments within 30 meters from the boundary of a neighborhood. 10. The UNA should strive to have resi-
dents represented in C& CP’s Advisory Planning, Technical Advisory and Urban Design committees whenever a proposed development will directly affect a UNA neighborhood Lately, major changes have occurred in UTown: the election result were promising for reform, vigilant residents protesting a “democratic deficit,” UBC developments threatening UTown’s quality of life. Since the new UNA Board was elected in November 2011, modest changes have happened: more open Board meetings, passage of enforceable parking rules, some dialogue with residents. However, the UNA has to go a lot further to adapt to the new reality. The staff must be subordinated to the authority of elected Directors because staff has no delegated authority to govern. The new Board must work harder to be accountable, consultative, responsive, supportive and transparent to achieve the common good of the community.
Prof Talk Every Tuesday you can tune into Prof Talk with host Farha Kahn -- talk radio at its best, live on CiTR’s 101.9FM. Prof Talk features interviews with professors each week from a vast variety of disciplines.
Upcoming interviews are scheduled as: January 24th – Erica Frank, MD, Faculty of Medicine January 31st – Werner Antweiler, Associate Professor, Sauder School of Business February 7th – Alejandra Bronfman, Associate Professor, History February 14th – Kim Schnoert-Reichel, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education February 21st – Andre Marziali, Associate Professor, UBC Engineering Physics February 28th – Mark Vessey, Principal, Green College
THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JANUARY 16, 2012
OP-ED PAGES How do Our ‘Property Taxes’ Compare to Those of Incorporated Areas Surrounding Us? By Jim Taylor, Hampton Place Resident Because of discussion in our community over the last while, I have been trying to puzzle my way through some way to judge, or put in perspective, the property taxes (rural tax and Services Levy) that we pay as UNA residents compared to what residents of surrounding incorporated areas pay in property tax. I say incorporated areas because I exclude the UEL (which pays very low property taxes) in this discussion. I hope to find time to describe the UEL relationship in a subsequent article (assuming that I do not try the editor’s patience too much). Last month I examined the specific amounts that we spend, comparing them, as a dollar figure per resident, to what I thought would be the best proxy municipalities for us – other small municipalities in and around British Columbia, particularly ones close to our population. I think all data is helpful but certainly this data did not conclusively prove any point (beyond that we generally appear to be as providently managed as any of these other areas). I now turn my attention to the closest municipalities to us, all of much greater population than us, but, like us, urban with most of the same services. In the Table below, I set out the average house value for the indicated municipali-
ties, then the amount of property taxes that this attracts and, finally, the residential mill rate paid per $1,000 of assessed property value. Our residential mill rate in the UNA applied to our average assessed value yields a “municipal” property tax of $1,749. As you likely know, our property “tax” goes to two parties –the rural tax portion goes to the Province and the Services Levy portion goes to UBC and then (by virtue of a contract the UNA has with UBC (Neighbours’ Agreement 2008)) directly to a fund to be used only to provide services to residents. Our leases require that we pay the same mill rate paid in Vancouver (which is a sore point with some residents). The data in the Table is interesting in a couple of respects. However, to me, the most interesting learning is that the residential mill rate we pay is (for technical reason) slightly less than is paid in Vancouver and, less, sometimes significantly so, than the residential mill rate paid in all but one of the urban area proximate to us in the Lower Mainland. When you stop to think about it, this is truly astounding. Vancouver, after all, has a series of big city problems (crowd control, drugs, homelessness, etc.) that are simply quantitatively not matched in any of these other municipalities (there are a couple which have problems of this nature too). One explanation for Vancouver’s residential mill rate being lower than most of
2011 General Municipal “Tax” House Value Total for Representative House 1
Mill rate per $1,000
North Van, City
North Van, District
1. In the UNA our total municipal tax is comprised of two components - the rural tax and the UBC Services Levy required by our leases. In all of the other areas there is simply a single municipal tax.
its surrounding municipalities is that the residential mill rate in Vancouver (and this is true of other municipalities too) is subsidized by the higher mill rates that Vancouver establishes for commercial enterprises and industry. Unfortunately in our community we do not have any (or no appreciable) number of tax payers in these categories. Accordingly we get the benefit of Vancouver’s commercial and industrial subsidization in the mill rate that we pay. It is not entirely clear to me that if we had a separate municipal organization and we paid fairly for the services that we required to operate that we would be able to do so at less than Vancouver’s mill rate. Certainly all but one of Vancouver’s surrounding municipalities are not able to do so. I assume that the Vancouver mill rate was chosen as the reference for our leases solely because Vancouver is next to us. As well, at the time, I am sure that there were a number of people who considered that there might be an amalgamation between Vancouver and our neighbourhoods (which is one of the governance options that might be open to us). But, when you review the Table, the choice of the Vancouver residential mill rate was fortuitous because if we were to apply the mill rate of any of these other municipalities except for West Vancouver, to our average assessed property values, we would be paying more in property taxes (and thus
Services Levy) than we presently do. If our houses were located in Delta, and our assessed value was the $822,436 set out in the table, then we would not be paying the $1,749 in property taxes which we do pay but we would be paying $2,696 in property taxes. Even if we were located in Burnaby, a municipality in which they spend half their time trumpeting what an efficient job they do of governance, a house that would attract $1,749 per year in property taxes here would attract $1,955 in Burnaby. Using the West Vancouver mill rate, and making the same comparison, the property taxes on an average assessed house would be less in West Vancouver than they are here ($1,710 compared to $1,749). Not to make excuses for data but it is interesting that the West Vancouver mill rate applies to an average assessed value that is approximately twice ours (i.e. the average tax burden in West Vancouver is $3,480 compared to our $1,749). You can, of course, make this comparison with some of the other communities but the only other community in the table where the average property tax burden (regardless of valuation) is less than the UNA is Surrey ($1,371 compared to $1,749). As I say, hopefully I shall be allowed the opportunity finish this trilogy by describing the situation in the UEL.
THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JANUARY 16, 2012
OP-ED PAGES Is UBC Actually Serious about Housing Affordability? By Thomas Beyer Housing affordability will be a discussion here on Campus for the next few months as the housing task force finally gets going, after many years of dormancy, starting with a meeting on Jan. 18 at the Ponderosa building at noon. Officially, of course, UBC pretends to be concerned about affordability. But is that really so? Affordability comes in four forms, for both rental and ownership, either subsidized or at market. All are serious issues in the BC Lower Mainland or in fact in many large cities across the globe. It may even be the most important issue as housing usually eats up the largest part of your income. The four quadrants of housing affordability & state of UBC focus
Market Rental Units (big focus)
Market Condo Ownership (big focus)
Subsidized Rental Subsidized Condo Units Ownership (some focus) (almost no focus)
For now, UBC has focused primarily on the top row, namely market driven affordability, i.e. increased supply of both rental units and condos to purchase on UBC land. Of course, increased supply helps affordability in that it reduces the price given a certain demand, as any Economics 101 student can attest. At the moment, in order to provide “affordable” housing, UBC maximizes density and restricts some usage to certain UBC connected groups. This has the benefit that it vastly increases the dollars that UBC can extract from land lease sales or rental revenues! UBC could do a number of things (listed later) to lower the purchase price or the rents, but all of those are subsidies of one form or another. UBC acts like a for-profit organization, or if you want to be cynical, it is really a landlord/development company with an adjunct education facility. While technically it cannot generate profits like IBM or Google, it can and must bank its profits from rental and land lease sales into its reserves or endowment fund. Nothing wrong with that, in fact as a tax paying citizen I expect it. Providing any subsidized housing is a cost, and costs, in any for-profit enterprise, have to be minimized given certain revenue targets. This explains the extremely sluggish pace of any discussions around subsidies or any concrete actions that have taken place in the last few years on the topics of “affordability”. It is far more profitable for UBC to develop for-profit rental housing or sell land leases to developers that then develop & sell condos off to residents or to off-shore investors at $800 to $1500 per sq ft. Yes, a 600 sq ft condo is more affordable than a 1200 sq ft one, but at $800 a foot plus HST, is half a million dollars for a tiny shoebox really the right, yet affordable, solution for a family of 3 or 4? The current rent of a studio of say
$1,000/month is actually higher than the tuition of $5,000 or so a year for two 4-month terms (see: www.housing.ubc. ca) . Rental properties have a very large profit margin of around 50-75% for UBC, before net of financing costs, if any. Thus UBC has a very strong incentive to get as many students on campus renting from UBC. Of course UBC would argue that this is affordable housing, but is $700 for one room, or $1,000 for a studio or over $1,400 for your own one-bedroom suite really affordable, or any more affordable than elsewhere? UBC is BC’s largest landlord, and it is a very profitable business to the tune of several tens of million a year in pure positive cash-flow to UBC, before net of financing costs, if any. So, what could UBC do – and I am not arguing it should do all of them, only some – to reduce housing costs, besides density and smaller units? It could lower rents for its roughly 7,000+ beds for rent on campus that start with $500 for a bed in a shared room (still $1000/month for a tiny, tiny studio). But why lower rents if they are always full? UBC has a captive audience. This might also explains the lack of enthusiasm for a rail link, for example: it would increase competition and lower rents on Campus. It could demand a certain % of rental units per new building being built. Right now that is zero in some buildings to very low in others. It could be vastly increased. However, forcing rental units onto forprofit developers will lower their profits, and as such, the land price UBC can sell the land lease for. It could sell land at reduced prices, or even for $1, to induce subsidized rental housing or subsidized ownership, It could co-fund development, so called co-development, in a mixed or fully subsidized building It could seriously lobby or co-fund a rail link to the Canada-Line and the Skytrain, making commute times more acceptable. This would allow accessibility to housing that is cheaper, but farther away, say in East-Van, Burnaby, Surrey or Richmond. It could provide free bedrooms for families with children, i.e. if a 3BR costs $800,000 and a 2BR $650,000 it could subsidize families to the tune of $150,000 (via a mortgage subsidy, for example, at 4%, i.e. $6,000/year). It could restrict foreign ownership, as it would reduce demand from speculators and thus, lower prices. It could levy taxes/surcharges for nonUBC residents or non-Canadians. It could restrict purchases or rentals of market units to folks who work on UBC Campus [UBC does this today, but it could be accelerated] As stated, I am not in favour of all of these initiatives, in fact I think some are plain wrong. Others may support all of them. I am just stating them here for inclusivity, to make a point of what could be done. The point is: all of these initiatives cost UBC money. It is a subsidy, either in cash or in reduced income. Therefore, UBC must quantify its commitment to subsidized housing, for example by stating, “We will allocate X$ a year for 10 years to affordable housing”. Then a committee can figure out how to best use any of the listed initiatives. You will see many articles and meetings on this topic, but the bottom line is, someone has to pay for it. How much, is the big question!
I believe UBC is serious only when it commits serious money to it. A proposed figure is 1% of its annual roughly $2B budget, i.e. $20M per year, for a 10 year minimum commitment. UBC may be working on such an affordability fund but details are unknown to the author as they have not been communicated officially yet Right now, an acre of land zoned for market condos with high density is worth around $10M to UBC, possibly far more. Land that is zoned for rental or subsidized housing (both rental or ownership) is worth much less. The worst case, namely zoning for below market rental, will drop the land value to essentially zero. In reality today, if UBC says “affordable housing” it means rental housing at market rates, or certainly very close to market rates, to as many students (or faculty or employees) as possible, or it means shoebox sized small condos in a very densely developed community. It means, “profits to UBC” so it can continue its academic mission. It doesn’t mean, “low cost” and certainly not, or not yet, “subsidized”! Finally, to explain the lack of enthusiasm here, is the fact that UBC currently doesn’t need to provide affordable housing. UBC can currently attract enough students or professors due to its geographic location. Affordability is not a primary issue for UBC. As a result of the global downturn in 2008, with FAR FEWER jobs available in the private sector and university endowments much lower across the globe, the cost of housing is NOT a real issue. Worldwide there are fewer opportunities for professors, internships or PhD subsidies, and also more soon-to-be-retired
professor working longer, as their RRSP or 401(k) is much lower. Yes, some folks complain, (and who wouldn’t want to pay less), but come here anyway as it is a great place to live. Yes, there is the odd professor or PhD candidate who will leave because she (or he) just got a job elsewhere where the salary is the same but housing is cheaper. But that odd professor or PhD can be replaced with 6 others who are as good or very similar. So, in summary, until UBC commits a significant dollar amount to subsidized housing in the form of reduced rents or condo ownership, the discussion will continue ad infinitum without providing any real affordable housing besides expensive market housing. UBC or the BC Government should consider a serious commitment to affordable housing subsidies as it is a requirement for healthy communities and social justice. Even the UNA could offer subsidies in some form as part of its $4M annual budget, although this would be a drop in the bucket. Thomas Beyer is the founder and president of Prestigious Properties, a firm which owns approx. 1000 rental units as well as the co-founder and chairman of the board of Fireside Property Group, a Calgary based property management firm that manages about 2000 rental units ( incl. a large number of true notfor-profit buildings). He was recently elected a UNA director. It should be understood that the opinions in this piece are not necessarily those of the UNA board.
THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JANUARY 16, 2012
UBC Exec. Explains Reasons for Wesbrook Amendments December 30, 2011 Professor Prod Laquian Chair, University Neighbourhoods Association Board 202-5923 Berton Avenue Vancouver, BC, V6S 0B3 Dear Prod: Thank you for the letter from the UNA Board dated November 17, 2011 that reiterated the UNA Board’s support for the Land Use Plan and the Wesbrook Neighbourhood Plan amendments, and also conveyed concerns of some residents regarding the amendments. This letter responds by identifying how the Neighbourhood Plan amendments address the concerns in your letter that are specific to that Plan, and other actions UBC has taken or will take to address the UNA Board’s other concerns. First in terms of specific items that could be addressed in the Neighbourhood Plan amendments, I note the following: • Your letter requested minimizing site coverage and maximizing green space in the public realm to maintain and preserve green space in Wesbrook Place. The maximum site coverage is 55% for 6 storey buildings, and is 40% for high-rise buildings. Thus 45% - 60% of the sites that will be used for residential buildings will remain as open space. This means that the high-rise building sites actually allow for more open space in the neighbourhoods than the lower-rise building sites. In addition, for the public realm our calculations show that the various open space components in the amended Neighbourhood Plan will exceed the provision in the Land Use Plan of 1.1 hectares per thousand population. Several significant open space areas were added to the Neighbourhood Plan, along with more green streets and parks. • Your letter asked UBC to reconsider the amount of gross buildable area to achieve the village in the woods character of Wesbrook Place. The final version of the Neighbourhood Plan reduced the floorspace in this area by 300,000 square feet and also did not accommodate the 300,000 square feet from the Gage South area. The taller buildings have been sited at the eastern edge of the community, which follows the pattern established in the previous Neighbourhood Plan, and the remainder of the sites are for six storey buildings which is very similar to the existing character. The community, when it is fully built out, will be very similar to the existing character that is in place today. The amended Neighbourhood Plan also continues the pattern of green streets and linear parks that help create the unique character of Wesbrook Place. An additional factor that is important to recognize is that a significant land area is being added to Wesbrook Place. The old BC Research site to the southeast of the old Neighbourhood Plan has now been incorporated into the neighbourhood. That means the effect of the increased floorspace is spread over a larger area, which also mitigates its effect on the character of Wesbrook Place. • Your letter asked that UBC not trans-
fer the housing being contemplated for the Gage South area of campus to Wesbrook Place. The Neighbourhood Plan amendments do not transfer this housing to the Wesbrook Place neighbourhood, thus reducing the potential floorspace to be accommodated in this neighbourhood by a further 300,000 square feet. Overall, the reduction in incremental floorspace allocated to Wesbrook Place in the early stages of the neighbourhood plan amendment process including the Gage South transfer is 15%. • Your letter noted the importance of affordable housing, especially for faculty and staff. The number of residential building sites allocated to six storey buildings will make a significant contribution to the availability of more affordable housing, as wood frame construction is less costly that concrete. In addition, the Housing Action Plan which is under preparation will assist with the provision of affordable housing for faculty and staff. • Your letter recommended implementing a policy in the Neighbourhood Plan that set a minimum of 30 metres as the distance separating high-rise buildings. This policy has been included in the amended Neighbourhood Plan. I also note that the expectation is that distances between buildings are anticipated to range between 30 metres and 70 metres based on the massing studies done to date, with an average of 45 metres separating high-rise buildings. This will far exceed the City of Vancouver’s guideline of a 24 metre separating distance, and effectively address privacy between buildings and views of the forested edge. • Your letter requested a review of the design vision for the Wesbrook neighbourhood. This has been incorporated as a new policy in the Neighbourhood Plan which requires an elaboration of the design vision in collaboration with the Advisory Urban Design Panel and UBC Properties Trust, and with an opportunity for input from the residential community and the development community. The results of this process will be published as a companion document to the Neighbourhood Plan.
portunities for public input. In addition, C+CP staff that manage the project review process would be available to meet with the UNA Board in the new year to discuss other communication techniques and opportunities. They will be in touch with the UNA’s Executive Director to determine if there is interest in this and if so, to schedule a suitable time. • Your letter noted the importance of continuing to improve the sustainability of the Wesbrook neighbourhood through application of the Residential Environmental Assessment Program (REAP), the development of the Community Energy and Emissions Plan and improving public transportation including rapid transit. The amendments to the Neighbourhood Plan increased the required performance of residential buildings from Silver to Gold rating, and also encourage building designs to incorporate heating systems that can be converted to a district energy system should this type of system be feasible. The UNA Board has been briefed on this feasibility work and the UBC Board will give it further consideration in 2012. I also note that the REAP system is under review to assess whether more stringent performance requirements are appropriate, and that the UNA has already participated in some workshop sessions on this topic. Similarly, the Community Energy and Emissions Plan is being developed jointly between the UNA and UBC, and we have worked together on matters related to enhanced public transportation in the past and I’m sure we will do so in the future as well. Your letter referenced other matters that are not specific to the Wesbrook Place Neighbourhood Plan. I would like to update you on UBC’s efforts to address those matters as well.
• Your letter asked that the pace of buildout of the Wesbrook neighbourhood be 400 units per year to minimize impacts on the neighbourhood. The amended Neighbourhood Plan has a new Section 7 titled “Implementing the Neighbourhood Plan” which states “The average annual rate of development is not expected to exceed 400 units per year, excluding rental housing which responds to different market conditions and provides affordability benefits. This rate will be monitored on a rolling seven year average basis beginning in 2012 and will be reported to the Board of Governors in the annual report of the Development Permit Board.”
• Regarding the authority for parking regulation, I have been in contact with Deputy Ministers in the Transportation, Advanced Education and Attorney General portfolios, urging substantive action on this matter, and legislation that will enable the UBC Board to adopt parking regulations, developed and administered by the UNA pursuant to the Neighbours Agreement, for the neighbourhoods. As you know, UBC has been working with provincial representatives for several years on this matter and legislation was scheduled for introduction last spring. However, events in the provincial capital put most legislative initiatives on hold, and reinstating this matter as a priority has taken time. The concerns expressed by the community directly to government have, in my view, moved this along and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is now very actively engaged in implementing an interim solution for January 1, 2012. My staff has also been told informally that the legislation is targeted for spring 2012, and we will be monitoring that to ensure it continues to advance.
• Your letter recommended that Campus and Community Planning conduct more thorough and effective communication with campus residents. The amended Neighbourhood Plan, in the new Section 7, sets out the project review process for new buildings in the Wesbrook neighbourhood, and identifies the public notification requirements and also op-
• Your letter raises a concern regarding the adequacy of the parking stall ratios in the UBC Development Handbook, which I understand is related to concerns about the use of on-street parking as an alternative to below-grade stalls. A review can be done but it is most appropriate to do that once an adequate regulatory regime that does not encourage use of on-street
parking instead of below-grade stalls is in place and has operated for a period of time. To review the parking stall ratios without this type of regulatory regime in place would not lead to appropriate conclusions. I have attached the consideration memo of public input received regarding the Wesbroook Place Neighbourhood Plan amendments. This document details the input received throughout the process, and how that input was addressed in the Neighbourhood Plan amendments or if not, the reasons why. The memo records the many changes made in response to community input, which include matters identified in your letter and other matters as well. The UBC Board appreciated your acknowledgement of the efforts of UBC staff to listen to the community, which is documented in the consideration memo. In your remarks to the UBC Board regarding the Wesbrook Place Neighbourhood Plan amendments, you suggested that some work on governance of neighbourhood planning would be useful. The UBC Board has asked me to establish a small working group with the UNA to review UBC’s neighbourhood planning process and compare it to other jurisdictions. While the UBC Board believes it has a very robust neighbourhood planning process in place, the UBC Board also believes in continuous improvement. So the small working group has been asked to document the current process and to look at the processes employed by other jurisdictions. This work should reveal where the process has strengths and where it could be improved, and will be fundamental to consideration of next steps by the UBC Board. I understand that we will be meeting early in the New Year, and I look forward to that. Sincerely, Stephen Owen, QC, PC
THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JANUARY 16, 2012 PLAYGROUND continued from Page 1
Instead of the second playground (promised, for over three years), Chancellor children see only a UBC poster on Iona Green proposing playground development. Instead of the slides and swings they have been promised, the children find only a small sand lot which has been there for years—a modest affair made for the youngest among them. A short walk to the west meanwhile, construction crews have converted the
large patch of grass called St. Andrew’s Commons—which served for decades as a playground for children—into a mass of over-turned earth and gravel. The Campus Resident understands that the permit to install play equipment on Iona Green was issued December 23 and the contractor was able to order the equipment for Iona Green before the end of the year. So, what’s the delay? A spokesperson said UBC expects an update on the delivery and installation dates shortly.
New playground site for kids behind the Iona Building is still not up and running; yet Chancellor Place children recently lost their only other playground due to construction
THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JANUARY 16, 2012
UNA Community News Sustainability Corner MOU Focus Area: Water Conservation We start the New Year with a continuation of my series of columns on focus areas in the UBC-UNA MOU on Sustainability. This month, I’m reviewing the focus area for water conservation. The primary initiative of this focus area is the Water Action Plan currently under development by UBC. The MOU commits UBC and the UNA to work together on the Action Plan to identify opportunities to partner on water conservation initiatives for the residential community. Progress has already been made for this focus area: as part of UBC’s public outreach for the Water Action Plan, a set of publically advertised workshops and a community open house were held to develop broad vision and priorities. Following the workshops, working groups were created to develop actions and targets for water reduction focus areas. The UNA Working Group was created to develop recommendations for water conservation relevant to UNA residents
and neighbourhoods (the Working Group also focused on waste reduction, a MOU focus area covered in a past column). The UNA working group was comprised of resident volunteers, UNA and UBC Campus Sustainability Office staff and a UNA Board member. The working group developed a number of water conservation goals and recommended actions to ensure high building standards for water efficiency and consideration of options for hot and cold water metering at the apartment level. The working group also developed recommendations for landscaping irrigation and recommended expanding education programs. The Water Action Plan will be coming to a community open house by spring 2012, so be sure and attend to find out more about the plan and the UNA working group recommendations. In the meantime, you can have significant influence on water consumption at home if you focus on showers and
baths, toilets and laundry (Environment Canada estimates that these three areas account for about 85% of home water use). As covered in an earlier column, if your home does not already have them, you can install an inexpensive low-flow shower head, which can reduce water use by 50% or more. Low and duel flow toilets also can significantly reduce consumption (choose a model that uses 6 litres or less). An inexpensive option is to add some bricks or a plastic bottle filled with water or sand in the tank of a conventional (13 – 20 litre) toilet. Front load washing machines can reduce water use by 35 – 45% compared to a conventional top loading washer. Regardless of technology, you can have a large influence on water consumption at home by avoiding long showers and leaving taps running and ensuring you have full laundry and dishwasher loads.
Ralph Wells, UNA Sustainability Manager
Street Parking Designations in the Hawthorn Neighbourhood The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has completed the parking sign installation process for the Hawthorn neighbourhood. The sign post installation and specific signage used is governed by Provincial Legislation with which the Ministry must comply. The signs have been placed to support specific space designations consistent with the associated plan printed herein. The interpretation of the legend to the plan is as follows: For those areas which are being invigilated by the Commissionaires. If it is determined that the vehicle is parked in violation of posted signage and the vehicle is recorded as having been the subject of a previous warning issued at any time and for any violation, it will be immediately towed. For those areas which are being invigilated by UBC. If it is determined that the vehicle is parked in violation of posted signage then the ticketing and towing practice will be consistent with established UBC policy. This applies to those areas along East Mall (Purple) and also applies to the East and West sections of Thunderbird. The Central or Mid section of Thunderbird (in the area of the Old Barn) is to be invigilated by the Commissionaires. 1. no parking - red – this designation means no parking whatsoever and at any time. 2. no parking 8-5 - M+F – UBC Purple – this designation means, only “Authorized” vehicles can park in these areas between the hours of 8 AM to 5 PM - Monday to Friday. An “Authorized” vehicle is one displaying an appropriate and current UNA issued Hanging Permit or decal for Hawthorn. These areas are to be invigilated by UBC and they will ticket and tow vehicles in violation of posted signage in accordance with their policy. These areas are to be used to meet the
short term parking needs of residents between 8 AM and 5 PM Monday to Friday. 5. no parking 8-5 M+F - Light Bluesimilar to item 2 except that these areas are to be invigilated by the Commissionaires on behalf of the Ministry and the UNA. Vehicles will be towed offsite if they are parked in violation of posted signage and if a warning notice has been placed on the vehicle at any time previously. 6. Modo - Green- These areas are reserved for the exclusive use of marked “MODO” cars. Vehicles will be towed offsite if they are parked in violation of posted signage. These areas are to be used to support a car share program. 7. Security - Dark Blue- This area is reserved for the exclusive use of marked “security” cars. Vehicles will be towed offsite if they are parked in violation of posted signage. This area is used to sup-
The original visitor parking permit is no longer valid.
port a UNA security program. 8. Parking Permitted 2 hours – Yellow - These areas are available for general public parking including vehicles with valid decals and visitor parking. None of the UNA issued decals or passes override the signage i.e a decal does not allow one to park in a 2 hour zone longer than 2 hours. Vehicles found in violation will be towed. 9. Handicapped - Light Red - These areas are reserved for the exclusive use
of marked vehicles displaying a SPARC permit. Vehicles will be towed offsite if they are parked in violation of posted signage. These areas are to be used to support a general community need. 12. Loading zone – Orange - These areas are reserved for the exclusive use of any vehicle engaged in active loading and unloading. Vehicles will be towed offsite if they are parked in violation of posted signage. These areas are to be used to support a general community need.
Designated parking areas for the Hawthorn Neighbourhood
THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JANUARY 16, 2012
Neighbourhood Parking Interim Rules Q & A Towing and Warning Notices Q: When will warning notices be issued? A: Starting now until January 22, in Hawthorn Place and Chancellor Place, vehicles parking in violation of the UNA Neighbourhood posted signage will be issued a warning notice. In Wesbrook Place, Hampton Place, and East Campus, notices will start being issued after completion of signage installation. Q: When does towing start? A: Starting Monday January 23, in Hawthorn Place and Chancellor Place, vehicles parking in violation of the UNA Neighbourhood posted signage will be towed at owners’ expenses. In Wesbrook Place, Hampton Place, and East Campus, towing will start at the beginning of February. Exact date to be announced. Q: Is there a fine associated with the warning notice? A: No, there is no fine. The warning notice is to inform you about the new rules. However, your vehicle’s information will be recorded by the Commissionaires. Resident Parking Decal and Visitor Parking Permit Q: What’s the difference between a parking decal and a parking permit? A: Parking decals are for UNA residents and parking permits are for their visitors. Each UNA household is entitled to only one Visitor Parking Permit, while each UNA resident is entitled to one resident parking decal per vehicle owner (proof of valid registration required). Q: How should I display a resident parking decal or a visitor parking permit? A: The resident parking decal must be permanently affixed to the inside top left corner of the front windshield. The visitor parking permit is to be hung on the rear view mirror with the expiry date clearly visible from the outside of the vehicle. Q: Where can I park if I have a parking decal or a parking permit? A: In the “no parking except authorized vehicles” zones in your neighbourhood only. Q: Can I park in the 2 hr (or 1 hr) zone for longer than 2 hr (or 1 hr) if I have a parking decal or a parking permit? A: No. A parking decal or parking permit does not authorize parking for longer than the displayed time limit. If you would like to park longer than the time limit on the displayed sign, please park in the “no parking except authorized vehicles” zone with your parking decal or parking permit properly displayed.
Q: I rent out my unit in the UNA neighbourhood and I live outside of UNA neighbourhood. Can both my tenant and I apply for resident parking decal and/or visitor parking permit? A: No. Only your tenant who lives in the UNA neighbourhood is considered a resident. Only a resident of the UNA neighbourhood is entitled to a resident parking decal and/or a visitor parking permit to be used for their guests. Q: Where do I apply for a resident parking decal or a visitor parking permit? A: You can apply online at www.myuna. ca or in person. Hawthorn Place resident parking decals and visitor parking permits are issued at the Old Barn Community Centre office (6308 Thunderbird Blvd.); Wesbrook Place resident parking decals and visitor parking permits are issued at the UNA office (202-5923 Berton Ave.). Note after January 28, all decals and permits will be issued at the UNA office. Q: What are the hours that parking decals and parking permits are issued? A: Monday to Friday 10 am to 8 pm, and Saturday 10 am to 4 pm. Q: What do I need to bring to apply for a resident parking decal? A: Driver’s license and vehicle registration. The address on the driver’s license and vehicle registration must be consistent and be a valid UNA address. Q: What do I need to bring to apply for a visitor parking permit? A: A proof of UNA residency. For example, driver’s license, BC ID, rental agreement, lease agreement, current month bill (utility, phone, credit card, etc.) or current month bank statement. Please note that passport, services levy, BC Assessment notice, CRA notice, or property purchase record is not considered proof of UNA residency. Q: I have recently moved to the UNA neighbourhood, and my vehicle registration still shows my old address. Can I use that to apply for a resident parking decal? A: No. Please go to any auto insurance office to have your vehicle registration updated free of charge. The online address change form for a driver’s license does not change your vehicle registration. Q: My vehicle is registered under my spouse’s name. Can I apply on his/her behalf? A: No. Only the primary driver of the vehicle can apply for a resident parking decal.
No parking M-F 8am - 5pm except maintenance and authorized vehicles. Authorized vehicles include vehicles displaying a valid Resident Parking Decal or a Visitor Parking Permit.
2 hour parking 7am - 10pm. No Decal or Permit required. Parking is for 2 hours only- Decal or Permit does not authorize parking for longer than 2 hours.
Parking enforcement starts January 2012 Violators will be towed Hawthorn Place & Wesbrook Place NO parking except authorized vehicles M-F 8am - 5pm • Resident vehicles require parking decal to park on street during posted times. • Each home may apply for a new visitor parking permit.
Hawthorn Place - The required decals and visitor parking permit will be available at The Old Barn Community Centre office starting Jan 3, 2012 - towing to start on Monday January 23, 2012. Wesbrook Place - The required decals and visitor parking permit will be available at the UNA office starting Jan 9, 2012.
Drivers license, vehicle registration, proof of address required.
Daily- 7am-10pm, 2 hour parking around The Old Barn Community Centre and 1 hour parking in the commercial area in Wesbrook
East Campus & Hampton Place No changes
Chancellor Place • NO parking on Iona Dr. except Sunday (north side only) • 2 hour parking on Theology Mall
www.myuna.ca for full details 这是有关在UNA社区停车的重 要信息, 请将此信息翻译。 University Neighbourhoods Association
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#202 – 5923 Berton Ave. Vancouver, BC V6S 0B3 604.827.5158 email@example.com
THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JANUARY 16, 2012
Tennis Aches Act to Spur On-Line Service Called ‘Connect The Doc’ Connect the Doc is service allowing people to book healthcare appointments online; new business is launched by twin brothers in West Point Grey As the son of two dentists, Nadeem Kassam says he understands the challenges that healthcare professionals face with their scheduling and marketing on a daily basis. At the same time, as a competitive tennis player, the 23-year-old UBC graduate and West Point Grey resident says he has experienced his own frustrations with appointment bookings, especially those that are after hours. Learning from these challenges and frustrations, the entrepreneurial Mr. Kassam—along with twin brother Nasheel Kassam—has launched Connect the Doc, a service that allows people to find healthcare professionals in a variety of fields and book with them directly online, 24/7. What’s more, the service—paid for out of fees charged to the healthcare practitioners—comes free to users. A graduate of St. George’s School, a private school in Dunbar, Mr. Kassam completed his undergraduate degree in the U.S. where he studied economics and attained All-American status for this success as a college tennis player. As Mr. Kassam tells it, the idea behind Connect the Doc began on the tennis court. “From my own experiences as a com-
petitive tennis player, I cannot count the number of times that I have struggled finding a next day appointment with a physiotherapist or massage therapist after regular business hours. “The current method of calling clinics from 9AM to 5PM to make, reschedule, and cancel appointments is inefficient and inconvenient for both patients and practitioners.” After 16 months of conceptualizing, coding, and testing, the website (www. connectthedoc.com) has gone live, and according to Mr. Kassam, “we are already seeing tremendous success with the clinics we have enrolled.” Prior to web development, he says, the brothers were fortunate to partner with a local firm as an “incubator” and received an investment of nearly $250,000 to create the Connect the Doc site. “To date we have more than 75 clinics enrolled in the fields of dentistry, physiotherapy, chiropractics, massage therapy, and optometry.”
What are the Facts about Water Rates at UBC and on the UEL? By Maria Harris, Metro Vancouver, Director Electoral Area A Residents of the UBC Peninsula have expressed concern recently over certain mark-ups applied in determining the cost of their water. Information that explains the justification for mark-ups has not been readily available. Therefore, as the elected representative on the Metro Vancouver Board, I am striving to obtain the missing information so that residents are fully informed. To this end, I am working with Metro Vancouver staff and with my UEL, UNA and UBC colleagues in an attempt to find out all the facts, including the rationale for the mark-ups. Water reaches our taps through the following arrangement. Metro Vancouver, in the form of a corporation called the Greater Vancouver Water District (GVWD), sells water to the UEL. The GVWD transports the water through its pipes from the source reservoirs to Blanca Street, where it enters UEL pipes. The UEL sells a small portion of this water to UEL residents, and the bulk of it to UBC. Water is distributed to UEL residents through a distribution system maintained by the UEL. Water sold to UBC passes into UBC pipes. UBC uses much of this water itself, and also supplies the UNA neighbourhoods with water through its own water distribution system. This water is sold to the stratas in the UNA neighbourhoods. How does this distribution arrangement contribute to the cost of water at our taps? Based on information from Metro Vancouver, on an article in the November edition of The Campus Resident
and on information provided on the UNA website (UBC Campus and Community Planning FAQ, Aug 25, 2011), I have pieced together the following picture of water rates per cubic metre during offpeak periods in 2011: GVWD charged the UEL $0.612. The UEL charged UBC 10% more, which equals $0.6732. The rate charged by the UEL to its residents is $1.20. UBC has elected to charge UNA stratas the same. For the peak period (the summer), all rates were 25% higher. In my November report to the UNA Board, I drew attention to the fact that the rates at which the GVWD sells water to the UEL (and other non-members) are 20% higher than the rates at which it sells water to member municipalities. This 20% mark-up, which has been in place at least since 1949, appears to have been intended to compensate the GVWD for costs not borne by the UEL. These included initial investment in water supply infrastructure and liability for costs associated with unrealized water demand relative to infrastructure investment. Although a 20% mark-up may have been appropriate 60 years ago, it is time to ask whether it is still appropriate. Alternatively, should the UEL and UBC enter into arrangements with the GVWD that more closely resembles the arrangements between the GVWD and its member municipalities? I welcome your thoughts, insights and opinions as I seek to ensure that Metro Vancouver supplies UBC and the UEL with water pursuant to an arrangement that is fair to the region and to residents. Maria Harris Director, Electoral Area A Metro Vancouver 604-225-2254 firstname.lastname@example.org
Smoking Banned in Spirit Park and Wreck Beach Except in Designated Areas Anyone caught smoking is subject to $75 fine Smoking is now prohibited in Pacific Spirit Regional Park and Wreck Beach except in designated areas, to protect park users from the health hazards of second-hand smoke. The Metro Vancouver board of directors adopted the no-smoking policy on September 23, 2011. The policy came into effect on January 1, 2012. Smoking is allowed only in signed, designated smoking areas where there is little risk of second-hand smoke exposure to others, where litter attributed to smoking can be contained, and where there is no risk of fire caused by smoking. For example, many regional parks will have designated smoking areas in entry parking lots. Smokers who violate the prohibition on
smoking inside Pacific Spirit Park, Wreck Beach and other regional parks, and who are found to be smoking illegally outside of designated smoking zones, are subject to a fine of up to $75 for each infraction.
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THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JANUARY 16, 2012
Biodiversity in your backyard New Year Resolutions for Biodiversity Patrick Lewis, Director, UBC Biodiversity Collections As we begin the New Year, many of us make resolutions. Typical resolutions include improving one’s health, learning more, being more helpful, and spending more time with family and friends. All of these can be accomplished with biodiversity and sustainability in mind. For those able to do so, one of the easiest ways to improve one’s health is to walk. Walking in natural or naturalistic settings is also an excellent way to spend more time with family and friends. Local residents can pursue this activity in the green spaces on and surrounding the campus, including the Botanical Garden. While walking, take the time to be aware of your surroundings; enjoy the scents, sights and sounds around you. To quote the naturalist John Muir, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” If you discover something new
to you, remember that the Botanical Garden offers a free “Celebrate Biodiversity” web forum where you can post an image or describe what you encountered and other participants may comment on it or identify it. Opportunities to learn more about biodiversity abound in Vancouver. In addition to the educational programs of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum and UBC Botanical Garden, it is possible much of the time to enjoy inexpensive lectures, walks, workshops or field trips through one of the Lower Mainland’s nature, environmental, or gardening groups. For example, in 2011, the Green Club www.greenclub.bc.ca “held 5 eco-tours, 97 guided natural walks, 80 heritage walks and cultural programs, and 250 community healthy walks.” Another example is Nature Vancouver (founded in part by the Botanical Garden’s first director John Davidson in 1918) with offerings such as bird counts, field trips, and Thursday night lectures. Again, bring a family member or friend along. Invasive species are an issue for many urban and near-urban environments,
and Pacific Spirit Regional Park is no exception. To combat invasive species and help improve native biodiversity, consider volunteering with the Pacific Spirit Park Society’s Ivy League and Holly Hauling groups. Or improve local habitat through the PSPS’s 3rd Sunday Work Parties (with activities such as restoration plantings and closing of illegal trails) or by helping the Spanish Bank Streamkeepers, whose volunteers continue to restore and monitor Point Grey salmon habitat. While becoming aware of local biodiversity and learning more about it, you may discover that one of the most important ways to resolve to be more helpful is to advocate on behalf of biodiversity. Telling family and friends how and why biodiversity and sustainability are important to you is valuable in prompting them to make their own resolutions for biodiversity. You may also find that encouraging government officials to seriously consider biodiversity issues is helpful in ensuring future generations are able to benefit from the same rich experiences.
Present a valid UNA CSC to the UBC Botanical Garden/Nitobe Memorial Garden and you may apply for a free basic annual membership!
THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JANUARY 16, 2012