Published monthly by the University Neighbourhoods Association Published monthly by the University Neighbourhoods Association
Volume 3, Issue 6
JUNE 18, 2012
UBC Farm Finds Generous Ally in Royal Bank
UNA Board Backs Plan to Build Skate Park on Campus Cost of first university skate park in Canada will be $450,000; funds will be provided by UBC ($50,000), UNA budget ($100,000) and neighbourhood development ($300,000)
The generous hand of the Royal Bank of Canada reached out to the UBC Farm administration with a cheque in it for $8,000 recently. Amy Frye, acting director, Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at the farm, explained the donation from the Royal Bank was used to help finance the June 10th Joy of Feeding Fair and other events at the South Campus farm. William Mah, branch manager of the Royal Bank at UBC Wesbrook Village, also in South Campus, said the bank was pleased to make the donation to a cause as worthy as the fair. “Food brings people, and cultures, closer together,” Mr. Mah said. Between 650 and 700 people attended the fair, which Mr. Mah said “had a great community feel to it with people gathering and sharing foods from 16 different parts of the world.” In photo taken at UBC Farm outlet in front of UBC Bookstore, Mr. Mah—surrounded by farm volunteers—holds up large cardboard replica of the $8,000 cheque. Farm operates mid-week market outside store.
Fun in New Chancellor Place Playground
‘OUR’ Society Sets up to Give Residents “Strong Voice on Campus” Inaugural meeting of OUR is to be held June 25 at Tapestry seniors centre 7PM The disappointment of some campus residents with the way their community is developing has led them to form an association called OUR (Organization for UTown Residents) whose intention is—in the words of its founders—“to be a force for positive change” in the community. OUR will hold its inaugural meeting June 25 (7 PM) at the Tapestry seniors residence in Wesbrook Place with Hawthorn Place resident John Dickinson, a co-founder of OUR, saying in an article in this newspaper the meeting will mark “a sea change in the history of our community.”
Youngsters Jakob and Simon Antweiler enjoy festivities at the opening of new UNA playground in the Chancellor Place neighbourhood. More scenes on Page 2.
OUR continued on Page 5
The UBC campus seems destined to become the first university campus in Canada to have a skatepark. At the June monthly meeting, directors of the University Neighbourhoods Association agreed to fund $100,000 of the $450,000 project out of the 2012 budget. A year earlier, UBC board of governors had endorsed the allocation of $300,000 from ‘community amenity charges’ collected primarily from neighbourhood development. At the UNA board meeting, UBC representative Adam Cooper said the campus and community planning department would provide $50,000. Mr. Cooper also said the design of the skatepark—on a parcel of unused ‘institutional land’ beside Thunderbird Boulevard between East Mall and Wesbrook Mall—is subject to approval by the UBC advisory urban design panel; i.e. it must meet architectural and landscaping standards set by the panel for public realm development at UBC. Given approval by the panel, UBC would expect to start construction this summer. Another UBC rep said construction should take three months. Project approval—the motion to approve was made by Erica Frank—came at the UNA meeting after a presentation by Kyle Dion, of Newline Skateparks Inc., a consultant to UBC, who said there was “a very good response” to the idea of a UBC skatepark during the public consultation phase of the project earlier this year. “There is a common misconception that skateboarding is a fad—here today and gone tomorrow,” Mr. Dion said. On the contrary, he added, “The first skateboards appeared in 1956—the same year as the hoola hoop.) He called the youth-dominated sport of boarding “as much a lifestyle as a sport, influencing our art, our clothes and our music.”
THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JUNE 18, 2012
Large Turnout Takes in UNA Playground Opening The UNA Community Youth Band played. Bobs & LoLo, the well-known Vancouver-based children’s music duo, performed on stage, and the kids bounded here, there and everywhere. June 1st, the first day of summer, did not come to UBC with much in the way of sunshine, but never mind the weather, dozens of kids—up to a hundred by one count— brought all the warmth of youth to Iona Green Park on campus, where a new playground was officially opened for them by the University Neighbourhoods Association. Kids up to four or five years of age will play on the new equipment installed in this pocket park between Iona Drive and Walter Gage Road in the Chancellor Place residential neighbourhood. In addition to the onstage performances, a number of The Old Barn Volunteers and Staff were on hand to lead the children in games of soccer, ring toss, and parachute, while many children enjoyed having their faces painted by The Face Painting Fairies. Hot chocolate and cookies rounded out the afternoon, bringing smiles to the faces of both kids and adults alike. Keep an eye out for upcoming summer events hosted by the UNA and The Old Barn.
The Old Barn Community Centre High School Volunteers
Children’s music duo, Bobs & LoLo
UNA Community Youth Band
Prod Laquian, UNA chair, declares playground open
New Playground in Chancellor Place (Photo taken days before opening)
THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JUNE 18, 2012
page 3 Published by: University Neighbourhoods Association #202-5923 Berton Avenue, Vancouver, BC V6S OB3
Editorial Page Count Down to Bylaw Lift-off The governors of the University of British Columbia will soon have the opportunity to make a momentous decision on behalf of the 8,000 residents who have taken to calling campus home. At time of writing (June 14th), no bylaws exist on campus in the way bylaws exist in, say, the City of Vancouver. For example, no noise bylaw exists covering Hampton Place, Hawthorn Place, Chancellor Place, East Campus and Wesbrook Place in the way a noise bylaw exists covering Kisilano, or Marpole or Mount Pleasant—all districts of Vancouver. The shocking lack of even one bylaw has prevailed at UBC since Hampton Place first took root in the early 1990s. However, the day draws near when, finally, residents of UBC neighbourhoods will live within the bylaws of municipal (or municipal-like) governance. On June
12th at the Old Barn Community Centre, the University Neighbourhoods Association board of directors voted unanimously—and enthusiastically—to approve the Enforcements and Disputes Bylaw, the first of what will eventually be a long list of neighbourhood bylaws. Now, all that remains is for the UNA to forward a notice of this bylaw approval to UBC Campus + Community Planning for review and recommendation to the UBC Board of Governors—and then for the governors to approve the bylaw. While counting down the days to when the governors complete this long—and sometime torturous—process, campus residents may wish to congratulate themselves and the UNA in having persisted in fetching about this major step forward in the development of their community.
Why We Need a Residents’ Association By John Dickinson “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead The inaugural meeting of OUR – Organization for U-Town Residents – on 25th June at 7 PM at the Tapestry seniors residence in Wesbrook Place, marks a sea change in the history of our community. It is the product of months and years of frustration, feelings of disenfranchisement and lack of respect by UBC for the interests and views of residents of U-Town. Simply put, we have had enough! Our efforts in the past to influence and change policies, development plans and the way things are done have been fragmented and ineffective. We are disappointed that UNA has been unable to represent us. The time has come for residents to have a stronger voice in our community and we need to band together to achieve this. We invite all residents to join us and lend weight to our efforts. Examples of
Letters to the Editor & Opinions Include name, address and telephone number. Maximum lengths: Letters 400 words. Opinions 750 words. We may edit or decline to publish any submission.
the issues that concern us most are overdevelopment of residential areas, ineffective governance, inadequate consultation with residents, taxation without representation and the slow pace of decision making and implementation of bylaws. In the upcoming elections for the UNA Board of Directors, we will run candidates who support our views and who will truly represent us. We understand, and do not under-estimate, the complexities of many of these issues and will advocate and lobby vigorously for residents’ interests in their resolution. We intend to engage all UNA neighbourhoods, other stakeholders and various levels of government in dialogue about the unique challenges of U-Town. We intend to be a force for positive change. Please join us and give us your support. Our Town! Our Voice! John Dickinson is a Hawthorn Place resident and one of the founders of OUR.
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Letters to the Editor Reader recommends Community Centre offer dog obedience courses I am concerned with the article “Need for Dog Bylaw...” published in the May 14, 2012 issue of ‘The Campus Resident’. I completely agree with Mr. Beyer that an animal control bylaw is a necessity at UBC and that it has taken far too long to get one in place. While a committee exists to draft a bylaw, it has met only once since October 2009. I feel that the article written inflames the emotional response of the readers, rather than fairly representing the situation at hand. It paints the dog situation at UBC as a large dog vs. small dog issue – placing the blame for the incident squarely on the shoulders of the large dog. The article does not fairly represent the role of the other dog or the owners in the attack. As a long time resident in Hawthorn Place, I have been increasingly concerned by the aggressive behaviour exhibited by small dogs towards other small dogs and also to large dogs. My dog is often harassed by dogs smaller than he is. The owner of the other dog frequently picks it up and gives it a pat, communicating to that dog that barking and lunging at another dog is behaviour that gets rewarded. Aggressive behaviour by a small dog is even sometimes regarded as “cute” or “funny”, tolerated because
small dogs are easier to physically control. It is neither, and it is unacceptable. I continue to train my dog to walk calmly by my side while another dog is behaving aggressively towards him. But I feel it is a very unfair thing to expect. He should be able to walk unmolested in our neighbourhoods. In addition, even well-trained dogs may eventually respond to persistent aggressive behaviour by another dog, including a smaller one. I do not want the risk that a dog responds to such behaviour and is mistakenly labeled as aggressive. We do need animal control bylaws at UBC. But we also need a better understanding of our dogs’ behaviours and of our role as handlers in shaping those behaviours. I would like to see the Community Centre offering dog obedience courses, particularly those targeted at smaller and aggressive dogs. I would also like owners of barking and lunging dogs to examine their own actions to see if and how they are encouraging their own dog’s poor behaviour. Shannon MacLachlan, Resident, Hawthorn Place (Editor’s Note: The Community Centre offered Dog Obedience Classes last year.)
Much-needed dog and noise control bylaws would “make campus cleaner, quieter” I would like to thank Thomas Beyer, vicechair of the UNA, for stepping up to the plate with the UBC board of governors on the issue of dogs on campus and the larger issue of the lack of enforceable bylaws in our community. Hopefully, he will stay on task with the pet issue and with noise control. Little and big dogs alike are defecating all over the place. Many owners are not picking up after them, creating an environment that is a bit like an open sewer. In combination with all the litter spread across the campus, (a lack of trash bins?), this makes the campus the opposite of the ‘green’ community it claims to be. Some dogs are noisy, adding to the already ‘over-the-top’ noise situation on campus, which is noisier than any other community in the Lower Mainland. The supposed draft noise bylaw addresses only decibel levels with a total disregard for the length of time we are exposed to noise. The audiology people right here at UBC will attest that length of exposure time is just as worthy a consideration. In any case, the sound of deafening siton lawn mowers every Wednesday in our (north campus) community is worthy of intervention. Both UBC and the strata I live make things worse by using the noisiest gardening equipment available (extremely
noisy mowers & leaf blowers) and this is magnified for those who live in highrises, especially within the noise tunnel area created by Gage Towers and others. Using this type of equipment should be prohibited and any noise bylaw should challenge UBC to actually do something green, instead of just pretending to be ‘green.’ Firstly, UBC should plant native vegetation, such as native groundcover on some of the sprawling dog poop lawns and boulevards, used only briefly and occasionally by dogs en route to their preferred walk in the park. Leash or not, dogs are frequently accompanied by owners who feign not knowing when their pet has dropped his or her goodies. My windows overlook the grass on the north side of the Gage Low Rise, which is mowed every Wednesday. Yet, in the four years I have watched, I have never seen anyone use these lawns. There are no benches or other amenities to invite interaction. So, why not plant sustainable salal or another easy care groundcover, send the mowers away, save money & reassign the service workers to tasks that might actually make the community a greener, quieter place to live? Mariette West, Resident, Chancellor Place
More Letters to the Editor on page 4
THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JUNE 18, 2012
Letters to the Editor Ex-Chair Challenges Open Letter in May Issue on Role of Metro in UNA Affairs
Reply from UNA Chair Raps Open Letter in May Issue from Hampton Resident
Who speaks for UBC residents if not UNA? Certainly not Metro Vancouver, says Jim Taylor
“Metro’s roles are regional in scope -- they do not include being the local government in the UNAUBC area,” says Prod Laquian
I write in reply to Bill Holmes’ open letter in your May issue. Mr. Holmes’ principal criticism is that the UNA has expressed concern about Metro Vancouver’s interest in surveying various persons in our area (including UNA residents) concerning, as he says, “…what we, the residents, think…” about governance. I entirely support the UNA Board’s caution, set out elsewhere in this paper. I was the initial Chair of the UNA for 6 years and have been an active UNA volunteer. I have been a resident of Hampton Place for almost 20 years. I confess a bias. I believe that the unique interests and rights of residents of the UNA neighbourhoods must be recognized and respected as a separate interest and ought to be represented by someone who has our interests in mind as their priority. I make no apology for this. In my opinion, those of us who exclusively pay the property taxes that support the operation of our residential community and who have invested in our residences (for many of us, including my wife and myself, the largest single investment we have) must be separately identified, represented and accorded particular respect and weight when any issue touches directly on our residential life. I recognize that there are a large number of different parties interested in development here at UBC. From Metro Vancouver’s point of view, these have included the (unincorporated) Friends of the Park, the Dunbar Residents’ Association, the University Endowment Lands, the Pacific Spirit Park Association, the Wreck Beach Society, students in UBC housing, UBC students generally, UBC’s labour unions, UBC faculty and others. I accept that many different interests have to be considered. However, Metro Vancouver has always referred to this diverse group by the same word that they refer to UNA residents even where the only issue under consideration is how the UNA residential areas should be governed. They call us “stakeholders”. All of us. It does not matter how extenuated the connection these others have to issues dealing exclusively with our residential life as compared to those of us who actually own the residences in, finance the operation of and live in our community. Metro Vancouver gives all of us the same label. I recognize that there are different issues raised in Electoral Area A. I understand the legitimacy of many. But I am concerned that Metro Vancouver has never, in any way or in any respect, identified the particular role and respect we as residents should be accorded when considering our residential life. So, I think it critical, that the interests of the residents be represented by someone who has the protection and advancement of those interests as their particular responsibility in determining, as Mr. Holmes says, “…what we, the residents, think…” about governance. The Province will be involved but we cannot expect the Province to fill this role. It has broad responsibilities to a number of actors involved in these issues and it would
Jim Taylor be impossible for the Province to advocate for our particular interests. The same is true of UBC. While, as I say below, I think UBC has been a good partner to us in what we have developed, UBC has its own institutional interests. As well, it has to give weight to a broad range of other interests within UBC. One cannot expect that in this process that UBC will be our advocate. Certainly, as I detail below, it cannot be the GVRD! So the question is “Who will speak for us”? In my opinion, the only existing body that can do that is the UNA and I trust the UNA to put our interests as residents first and recognize, define and represent those interests. I start by saying that I object to Metro Vancouver presuming to control the timing of any consideration of these issues as they affect, in any way, our residential life. At a recent UBC widely advertised town hall meeting (with the UBC VP responsible for governance matters from UBC’s side) nine residents (of about 8,000) attended. I know the UNA is in the process of developing a survey to identify the particular interests of residents on a range of issues (including governance). I prefer to let someone who has my interests at the forefront provide the information to me that I need concerning the timing and the nature of a consideration of the governance issues that either exclusively or directly affect me as a resident. I have no concern with Metro Vancouver playing a strictly limited role in any consultation regarding governance for our residential life that we as residents decide should proceed and at the pace and timing we choose. While Metro Vancouver has recently made, in my opinion, grossly exaggerated and in some cases simply false claims about their legal authority to participate, I agree with Mr. Holmes that they should participate. They are our regional service provider. Some of their regional policies impact us and we have an obligation to observe those that do. My concern is with giving Metro Vancouver any sort of lead role in this process. I have several reasons for this concern: 1. I first came to know real detail of Metro Vancouver and how it operated during the Governance Study which the Province and Metro Vancouver sponsored in the late 1990’s (I was one of seven persons involved in that study). CHALLENGES continued on Page 6
In an Open Letter to the UNA Chair (Campus Resident, May 14, 2012), Bill Holmes, a Hampton Place resident, made a number of assertions about the UNA‘s role in local governance. I am responding to his comments in the order they were stated: 1. Mr. Holmes’ letter asserts that the UNA “can never fulfill the role of a fully empowered local government” and that “it will never be able to enact bylaws, set tax rates, and so forth.” The UNA and UBC are in the final stages of passing an “enforcement and appeals bylaw”. After this is approved by the UBC Board of Governors, bylaws on noise, parking and animal control (already drafted) will be enacted. Because of the need to control parking in the UNA neighbourhoods, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) approved interim parking regulations last March. These are managed by the UNA. When MOTI transfers jurisdiction over local roads to UBC by legislation and UBC delegates the authority to the UNA, a UNA parking bylaw will be enacted. Mr. Holmes’ judgment that the UNA will never function as a governance mechanism is contradicted by provisions in the UNA Constitution, the 2008 Neighbours Agreement and the University Act that gives UBC the authority to delegate governance powers to the UNA. When the UNA was set up in 2002, UBC had complete control over local governance on campus. A unique governance system has been evolving since then based on delegation of authority by UBC to the UNA and assumption by the UNA of governance functions. At present the UNA Board with four elected Resident Directors sets governance policies (a fifth seat for a Resident Director will be open in September 2012). The ongoing UNA effort to craft an appropriate governance system in the community is a logical stage in this evolutionary process and it is a bit premature to say that this will never happen. 2. The UNA’s opposition to Metro’s initiatives are not on consultation but on Metro’s claim to be the legal local government in our community. If Metro’s purpose in the community consultation is simply “to determine the views of the residents,” the UNA has no objection to that. However, on April 27, 2012, Metro Vancouver Chair Greg Moore stated in a letter to the UNA Chair that “Metro Vancouver remains the local government for UBC and continues to provide some local government services” in the area. That claim puts Metro’s consultation initiatives in a different light. The UNA strongly rejects Chair Moore’s claim because Metro had already relinquished its role over UNA governance under MEVA (Municipalities Enabling and Validating Act of 2010) which placed the UBC-UNA area under the direct ju-
risdiction of the province. Metro’s roles are regional in scope -- they do not include being the local government in the UNA-UBC area. To date, most local services in the UNA area have been provided by UNA, UBC, RCMP, strata councils and volunteer groups. UNA delivers municipal-like services such as sanitation and storm sewers, waterworks, street lighting, roadways, parks and signage through special arrangements with UBC and other entities. It runs its own community centre, parks, playgrounds and other services through licenses and other legal instruments. 3. Mr. Holmes’ letter says a UNA survey on governance is not needed at this time. Interested UNA residents know that governance has been a regular topic of discussion in the community for many years. Governance options such as amalgamation with UEL or Vancouver, a regular municipality, a special municipality or an enhanced status quo have been debated in community forums and newspapers. Two referenda, in fact, have been conducted on amalgamations with UEL or Vancouver and residents voted both down. Now that the UNA population is more than 8,000 and some residents are voicing some concerns, a survey is worth doing at this time to ascertain people’s views and gather new information on the changing nature of the community. 4. Metro’s role in restructure planning grants may not be needed by the UNA. Restructure planning grants are generally requested by smaller communities under the direct control of regional authorities (like the Cowichan Valley Regional District). The GVRD situation is different in that Metro does not have direct control over many local units in the region. Asking the province for a restructuring grant is discretionary on a local unit. If the UNA does not apply for such a grant, Metro will have no role as a conduit for the grant in UNA’s restructuring. 5. Mr. Holmes’ letter claims that the UNA has no “authority” to study local governance reform. RAPS continued on Page 6
THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JUNE 18, 2012
Funding Success Sets St. John Hospice at UBC on Road to Completion Generous donors are recognized at groundbreaking ceremony; construction of 15-bed hospice is due to be completed in fall of 2013 The persistent efforts of a charitable organization whose motto is ‘For Faith, for Service to Humanity’ have paid off in raising funds to pay for the construction of a hospice at UBC. The Order of St. John Palliative Care Foundation set out four or five years ago to develop the hospice, and on May 25, after lengthy delays and a bitter controversy about location of the hospice 15 months ago, the Order of St. John held an event at the site of the hospice on Stadium Road to both officially launch construction of the 15-bed, end-of-life care facility and recognize donors whose generosity made this $4.5 million development possible. Welcoming guests at the event, John Norton, foundation chair, paid tribute to the prolific abilities of the fund-raising team led by Vancouver chartered accountant Ken Mahon. “Ken Mahon led the team,” Mr. Norton said. “All the money has been raised... Funds were raised from people at all income levels.” Mr. Norton also said he was pleased to announce that Vancouver Coastal Health—the regional health provider— has agreed to provide annual operational finding of approximately $1.6 million and manage the hospice for a minimum 20 years. On behalf of the University, Stephen Owen called the event “extremely important.” Vice-president, external, legal and
OUR continued from Page 1 Wesbrook Place resident Claire Robson, another co-founder, said in an interview, “OUR will give residents a legitimate voice.” Ms. Robson and Mr. Dickson have emerged as two of the most vocal critics both of UBC policies respecting de-
community relations, Mr. Owen said “another piece of the complete community at UBC is starting out to completion.” On behalf of BC Housing, a provincial government agency, MLA Colin Hansen referred first to the fund-raising abilities of the foundation. “Ken (Mahon) is persistent,” he said. Mr. Hansen also referred to his experiences visiting hospices around the province. “Many people think a hospice is a sad place, but in my experience, it’s quite the opposite. I have always left a hospice feeling full of the life there, the love there, the compassion there.” On behalf of Vancouver Coastal Health, Mary Ackenhusen, chief operating officer, said the St. John Hospice “was an obvious one for us to fund.” Chair of the hospice funding team at the Order of St. John Palliative Care Foundation, Ken Mahon spoke modestly of not only the success of this team in raising $4.5 million but also in the amount of valuable knowledge gained about hospices in the process. The controversy involving location of the hospice erupted in January, 2011 when mostly Asian residents of the Promontory condo building adjacent to the site asked UBC to reconsider its location. The residents and other Asian residents in the Hawthorn Place residential neighbourhood (of which Promontory is part) said they opposed this close location of the hospice to their homes as inconsistent with their views on death and dying. They also said UBC had not given residents sufficient notice of this institutional development next door to them. Faced with opposition to the location, the UBC board of governors delayed approving the project for four months.
Ground is broken for construction of St. John Hospice at UBC. From left to right: Colin Hansen, Mary Ackenhusen, Kenneth Mahon, Stephen Owen and-under tent--John Norton
velopment of the residential community on campus and of the performance of the University Neighbourhoods Association in representing the interests of campus residents. A retired business executive, Mr. Dickinson writes, “We are disappointed that the UNA has been unable to represent us.”
An editor and writer, Ms. Robson said formation of OUR and the holding of its inaugural meeting is the product of months and years of frustration, feelings of disenfranchisement and “lack of respect by UBC” for the interests and views of residents of U-Town. As well as explain the mission and policies of OUR at the inaugural meet-
ing, OUR founders—who set up their organization under the BC Society Act (the same act under which the UNA is set up)—will introduce prospective candidates for election in the upcoming (September) UNA election of three directors. Commenting on the emergence of OUR as potentially a strong voice in the development of the campus community, now counting 8,000 residents, Prod Laquian, UNA chair and president, said, “Based on the OUR flyer announcing its inaugural meeting on June 25, I think the organization will help greatly in enhancing development in our community. “Its concerns are clearly stated and its goals, admirable. Its objective of having residents have a stronger voice in community affairs is laudable. Its plan to field candidates in the upcoming UNA election for resident directors is exactly what is needed in our community to achieve greater civic engagement. I hope it results in a higher voter turnout.” Mr. Laquian noted that for the past decade or so, the UTown community has been “growing and evolving. “The UNA has been acting more and more like a municipal-like government. It needs help from voluntary residents organizations like OUR to achieve better communication and community participation. “Personally, I believe an organization like OUR is great for all of us. I welcome it and wish it well.” Please turn to Page 3 for article by John Dickinson.
page 6 CHALLENGES continued from Page 4
The Governance Study involved considering various governance options for those of us living on the tip of Point Grey. Metro Vancouver made it clear early on that it had a settled preference on what Metro Vancouver called “amalgamation” with Vancouver. I fully understand Metro Vancouver’s interest in getting rid of troublesome parts of electoral areas that have no or atypical forms of governance. We are a bother to them. We take time. They would prefer to have our status regularized as a municipality. And “amalgamation” with Vancouver is one option that we should look at. But I am concerned that a Metro Vancouver with its mind made up would now presume to take any initiating role in choosing the timing of a process, drafting a survey, asking questions, fairly selecting cohorts, creating a study and a process. 2. During the past decade there have been two referenda conducted by Metro Vancouver in our area. I do not remember the precise questions but I do remember that they related to future governance and that in the first (pre-Hampton Place) referendum the only option put forward was amalgamation with Vancouver and in the second (in 1995) the only options put forward was our then status quo or creating a new municipality involving the UEL. 3. In 2000, Metro Vancouver and UBC entered into a formal written agreement (called a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”)) regarding the development of our residential areas. Article 4 refers to the governance structure that the MOU contemplates in the absence of a municipal government in our area. In an appendix to the MOU, this governance structure is stated to be the to-be-incorporated UNA providing “…for the establishment, advancement, and perpetuation of any services and facilities…provided at a level…comparable to those provided by a municipal or similar type of local governing body in” British Columbia. When I, as the first Chair of the UNA, started out, I took this goal assigned by Metro Vancouver and UBC seriously and I worked hard as a member of the Board (now a resident controlled Board), along with many others, to try to achieve this goal. In this process, I was repeatedly disappointed, over a very long time period, by Metro Vancouver’s conduct towards the fledgling governance structure Metro Vancouver had, in part, set on its course. I give some examples: a. No senior politician or staff from Metro Vancouver with any ability to positively help us achieve the goal they helped set for us ever sat down with us to attempt to work our way through the issues the fledgling UNA encountered early on and still encounters. b. Metro Vancouver has itself conducted two studies on governance since the UNA’s creation and the goal set out in the MOU. These both explored the options for the governance of our residential areas. Metro Vancouver never involved us in any way, to any extent in these studies. There was no consultation before Metro Vancouver staff tabled the result of the studies. Indeed with the second (I believe) the UNA Board only became aware of it when it was already on an agenda of a meeting of a Metro Vancouver Committee. And we got notice of this report going to this meeting after the time for requesting permission to speak at the meeting (by being placed on the speakers’ list) had expired! c. The MOU established a committee, the GVRD/UBC Joint Committee
THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JUNE 18, 2012 (“Committee”). Amongst other things this Committee discussed residential zoning and planning arrangements here at UBC. As the past UNA Chair I was asked to attend the November 25, 2009 meeting of the Committee. I was on the speakers’ list. I told the Committee how we operated as a community and what we did together as residents. The Committee’s chair that evening was Maria Harris (our Electroal Area “A” Director). Directly after I spoke Ms Harris recognized the then immediate past chair of Metro Vancouver, Derek Corrigan (the mayor of Burnaby). Mr. Corrigan was not on the speakers’ list. However, the Chair permitted him to speak. This was unusual because Metro Vancouver could be sticky about permitting people to speak only if they were on the speakers’ list. Mr. Corrigan spoke from prepared notes. Given his role as a Metro Vancouver representative I was astounded to hear him describe all that the hundreds and hundreds of UNA resident volunteers had done to try to meet the goal that Metro Vancouver and UBC had set for us as being creating something like a “Kiwanis Club”. He said, ‘Either you figure out a different way to govern yourself or we (then the GVRD) will do it for you’ (or words to that effect). On the agenda of that meeting was consideration of a draft GVRD bylaw which provided that the governance structure that we had developed in our community, which featured by then clear elected resident control of much done in our community, would be taken over by the Metro Vancouver’s bureaucrats in Metro’s head office in Burnaby and we would be “run” from there. No Metro Vancouver representative on the Committee said one word in reproof of any of this. A senior Provincial employee was at this meeting and shortly after this meeting the Province stepped in to remove Metro Vancouver from any zoning or local services role here (taking on that responsibility itself). And incidentally, within days of the Province assuming this role the Province contacted at least the UNA, UBC and the UBC students to sit down with each of us (the Deputy Minister and another senior official attended) to discuss how our present, or other, governance models might play out for our particular constituents (something Metro Vancouver never did). d. When the Province decided to collect an additional tax on rural taxpayers (such as we are) the Province left the method of collecting in our area up to Metro Vancouver. The UNA asked Metro Vancouver to take into account this fact – under the rural tax UNA residents pay a huge sum for policing (now over $500,000 per year). On the other hand, the UEL’s special rural tax requires them to pay nothing (zero) for policing. This seems an odd financial benefit to give to a community where the average assessment (as of 2011) of single family homes is $3,569,000 compared to an average assessment of $832,000 in our community. We asked Metro Vancouver to start to work toward property tax parity within Electoral Area “A” by having the UEL bear the new tax until such time as all of us in all of Electoral Area “A” were paying, based on our assessments, a comparable amount. Metro Vancouver showed no interest in what I thought then, and think now, was an equitable, if partial, solution to start to create a fairer property taxation regime across all of Electoral Area “A”.
CHALLENGES continued on Page 10
RAPS continued from Page 4 The UNA’s Constitution and By-Laws, the 2002 and 2008 Neighbours Agreements, and UBC’s delegated authority under the University Act clearly indicate that the UNA has the authority to study local governance. The UNA Constitution mandates the organization to promote and create “a distinctive ‘university town’ community that will support ... the common good of those residents within the local areas.” In the 2002 Neighbours Agreement, it was understood by both UBC and UNA that the “initial agreement would be replaced once development within some of the local areas had progressed to a point where the UNA was able to more formally assume responsibility for certain services and facilities.” The 2008 Neighbours Agreement added another UNA function which is “undertaking community-building measures to develop a healthy and vibrant community” (Section 3.2). These provisions clearly show that the UNA has the authority and the responsibility to study governance reform in the light of changing conditions on the UBC campus. 6. Contrary to Mr. Holmes’ view, the UNA Constitution allows the use of the Neighbours Fund to study local governance. Section 2(a) of the UNA Constitution specifies that one of the purposes of the association is “to promote a distinctive university town” and that in the process the UNA is enjoined “to establish, advance and perpetuate information management and liaison systems” (section 2.e.i). This provision encompasses the authority to conduct surveys and engage in community consultations. The 2008 Neighbours Agreement also states the “scope of the municipal-like services, facilities and amenities which the UNA has agreed to manage, operate or undertake...” (Section 2.1.c) and specifies “the sources and management of funds for the activities and services... which the UNA agrees in this Agreement to provide.” (Section 2.1.d). These provisions clearly allow the UNA to use the Neighbour’s Fund to study local governance reform. Although money in the Neighbour’s Fund is not actually received by the UNA, the use of these funds is now completely under UNA control. The UNA’s annual budget, formulated and approved by the UNA Board after community consultation, is not approved by the UBC Board of Governors but submitted to it simply for information. 7. The UNA Constitution allows the use of funds to finance a survey. By its very nature, a Constitution is a basic and general document that does not cover all the details on what an organization can do. However, Section 2(e) of the UNA Constitution clearly mandates the use of funds to conduct a survey as part of UNA’s function of information management. In fact the UNA financed a survey of residents in 2008. The 2012 survey will gather demographic, economic and social data as well as residents’ views on governance. It is a legitimate UNA expenditure. 8. Metro’s role in an open and informed discussion on local governance. The UNA shares Mr. Holmes’ view that community support and open and informed discussion are necessary when exploring future governance options. It adheres to the principle that “the consent of the governed is a requirement for legitimate governance.” The UNA Board was directly elected by the residents primarily to govern our community. Ultimately, the UNA residents, not Metro or
other stakeholders, have the final say on the best form of governance for our community. 9. Mr. Holmes’ letter says the UNA has failed in “civility, fairness, good faith, respect and understanding” in its dealing with Metro. I disagree. The UNA may not always agree with Metro officials or its Electoral Area A representative but disagreement, even in contentious debates, is not rudeness. To be fair, Metro has not exactly been a model of “civility, fairness, good faith, respect and understanding” in its past dealings with the UBC and the UNA. In fact, it was precisely Metro’s negative attitude toward the UBC and the UNA which led to the province’s decision to place the UBC-UNA area directly under its jurisdiction. (See April 2012 issue of Campus Resident, page 7 for remarks by Metro’s Derek Corrigan about UBC and UNA.) In future the UNA-Metro relations as in other dealings, it may be useful to remember that respect is a two-way street. 10. Mr. Holmes’ letter and the headline of the article advise the UNA to “deal more respectfully” with Metro Vancouver and “set a good example by acting co-operatively with governments”. This advice is uncalled for. The UNA has always acted respectfully and co-operatively with governments. It accepted the 1997 GVRD Official Community Plan (OCP) for Electoral Area A that included the UBC campus. It conformed to the 2000 MOU signed by GVRD and UBC that established the UNA as the governance structure in the OCP local areas. It complied in 2002 when the UNA was incorporated and given the mandate to “promote the development of good neighbourhoods and to provide, operate and maintain services and facilities on behalf of the residents.” (2008 Neighbours Agreement, Recitals, sections B and C). In 2009, however, GVRD requested the Province to relieve it of its responsibilities on the UBC campus. GVRD initiated the separation and the Province agreed by passing MEVA Part 10 (June 2010). By agreeing to these changes and conforming to MEVA, the UNA has cooperated with governments from the very beginning. It is Metro that clouds the issues now by claiming that it is the legal local government in the UBC-UNA community. In previous discussions with the Ministry of Community, Sport and Culture, top officials have assured the UNA that the responsibility for designing a governance mechanism that fits the unique conditions in our community rests with the UNA residents and UBC. The UNA and UBC accept this challenge. In fact, the UBC Board of Governors has already struck a UBC-UNA Working Group to look into this task. In our search for an appropriate governance mechanism, we in the UNA are committed to the civic vision of a “direct democracy.” In partnership with UBC, we have been developing a governance system that is located closest to the people directly served by it. In our view, this democratic principle will be undermined by Metro’s efforts to impose an external local government structure – an unnecessary bureaucratic layer – between our directly governed community and the province. We find these efforts undemocratic, inefficient and unacceptable. Prod Laquian, UNA Chair and President
THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JUNE 18, 2012
400 popular books - including best-sellers - are now on ‘Great Reads’ list; UNA members can borrow for free UBC Library’s ‘Great Reads’ program has been expanded and enhanced for the reading pleasure of residents and others who are non-academics. Last fall, the Library launched the Great Reads program at Koerner Library to provide campus residents, community members, faculty, staff and students easy access to leisure-reading materials ranging from Canadiana to popular fiction. The program has been such a big hit that it’s now also featured in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, where the collection focuses on topics such as popular art and architecture, non-fiction science best-sellers and more. In addition, the Great Reads website – found at http://greatreads.library.ubc. ca – has been updated. Visitors to the site may discover available books by location, scan the carousel for new titles and Google book reviews, and check out recommendations. UNA residents who buy annual memberships at UBC Library should take their receipts to the UNA, which will reimburse them. Regular community rates apply when purchasing Library cards (please see http://services.library.ubc.ca/borrowing/ library-cards/unaffiliated/ for more information). Readers can also call Koerner’s Circulation Desk for more information –
Martin Dee, UBC photo
UBC Library Lengthens List of Leisure Books for Residents
Great Reads collection in Koerner Library 604.822.2406. UBC Library staff report that readers have been highly receptive to the Great Reads program – recent figures indicate that 62 per cent of the Koerner collection (328 titles) were checked out, while nearly half of the Learning Centre’s collection (69 titles, many more to arrive soon) had been borrowed. Popular reading collections, a staple in public libraries, aren’t as common at their academic counterparts. However, 94 per cent of respondents to a recent survey stated that they might, or definitely would, use a leisure reading collection at UBC. Collection use steadily rose during the post-launch pilot program, and attracted a high number of non-traditional academic library users, such as staff and community users. The Great Reads collection is located on the main floor (level three) of Koerner Library and the main floor (level two) of the Learning Centre, adjacent to the Circulation Desk.
THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JUNE 18, 2012
UNA Community News Sustainability Corner UBC Partnerships Last month, I highlighted the contributions of volunteers and community involvement in programs and public events related to sustainability. I thought it would be appropriate to focus on another important group – our partners in sustainability at UBC. If you’ve followed this column, you know that UBC contributes to UNA sustainability programs in many ways. Composting and e-waste services are possible because of the involvement of UBC Building Operations. The 2010 campus wide waste audit that incorporated the UNA neighbourhoods was coordinated out of the Campus Sustainability Office but involved a number of UBC departments. Not surprisingly, the Campus Sustainability Office has been a key partner, working with the UNA on many initiatives including the Waste and Water Action Plans, a review of the Residential Green Building Program and the development of a Community Energy and Emissions Plan. More recently, the UNA has engaged with the UBC Sustainability Initiative (USI) via a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that I have covered extensively in previous columns. We’ve also had recent success in engaging with the UBC Clean Energy Engineering (CEEN) program, working with engineering students on energy audits of UNA residential buildings and hiring a CEEN intern to help develop energy conservation programs for the UNA (these will be the topic of a future column). None of these successes would be possible without the people who make it all happen. While I can’t acknowledge everyone here, I’d like to highlight a few key individuals who have been very involved in supporting UNA sustainability initiatives. They include Darren Duff, the Manager of Municipal Services for UBC Building Operations and Kyle Reese (our Community Energy Manager), Waleed Giratalla (former UBC Waste and Water Engineer, now with City of Surrey) and Brenda Sawada (SEEDS Coordinator) of the Campus Sustainability Office. Eric Mazzi, BC Hydro Power
Ralph Wells, UNA Sustainability Manager
Smart Instructor for the CEEN program and Alberto Cayuela, Associate Director of the UBC Sustainability Initiative have also been very engaged in supporting UNA initiatives. Finally I’d like to acknowledge Waste Free UBC, a committee of UBC managers, students and the UNA that works towards a zero waste future on campus. These are of course only some of the UBC people who have worked with the UNA to support sustainability, and I will try to recognize others in future columns. I think there is little doubt that the UNA sustainability ambitions benefit greatly from the support of these individuals and our association with a world class university that is committed to sustainability.
UNA Intern Intends to Help Residents Cut Home Energy Bills UBC masters student is interning at UNA for summer; 50% of salary is covered by BC Hydro program The UNA has hired Sunny Brar, a UBC Clean Energy Engineering masters student, as a summer intern. Sunny was hired through the UBC Clean Energy Research Centre (CERC) Co-op program and his internship qualified for a BC Hydro Power Smart subsidy which will cover half of his salary. Working with Ralph Wells, the UNA Sustainability Manager, Sunny will help the UNA administration—along with strata councils and individual residents at home—to conserve energy, reduce gas emissions and save money. After completing his undergraduate degree and working within the chemical engineering profession in London, England, for the last four years, Sunny decided to move to Vancouver to use his skills and experience to complete a master’s in Clean Energy Engineering. Sunny says this decision was fueled by “my personal desire to pursue a career in sustainable energy development. “I believe the consensus to curb global emissions of greenhouse gases to tackle climate change is an opportunity as an engineer to make a positive difference in our world on this multidisciplinary issue.” As part of the energy efficiency and con-
Sunny Brar servation course of the Master’s program, six energy audits were conducted on residential buildings around UNA neighbourhoods. The information gained from the audits has shed light on energy efficiencies, utility cost and green house gas reductions. “By building on the work conducted by my colleagues, I’m able at the UNA to effect real change in the community and investigate where viable prospects for implementation can be achieved from a neighbourhood wide perspective. “I see my work as an opportunity to demonstrate to residents and strata councils the benefits of energy conservation not only from an economic perspective but one held on moral values about sustainability and the environment we live in.”
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THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JUNE 18, 2012
Consider a Career with the UNA Operations Director The University Neighbourhood Association (UNA) is a unique nonprofit society created to provide Municipal-Like Services (Streets, Streetscapes, Parks, Playfields, Playgrounds, Community centers, Social Services and full range of Recreational services) to residents living in designated neighbourhoods on UBC Vancouver Campus. The
combined Neighbourhoods are expected to become a community of approximately 20,000 residents in the next decade. We invite you to bring your skills and passion, and apply your expertise to guide our Association through the process of Development, Operations and Maintenance of our community neighbourhoods. To view the full job posting, please visit www.myuna.ca/ about-us/join-us/employment/
Undisclosed Suites/Renters can Void Condo Owners’ Insurance Insurance agents are emphatic on this point If you rent out space in your condo or townhouse to help pay the mortgage, or for any other reason, make sure your insurance broker knows! This advice comes from Alia Henderson, marketing coordinator, Westland Insurance which has branches at both Wesbrook Village, UBC, and West Point Grey. “To ensure proper coverage is in place, it is important that unit owners advise their insurance brokers of any tenants living in their unit,” says Ms. Henderson. “Whether the tenants are boarders or they live in a self contained suite, it is essential information to the insurance contract.” Although the policy may not be to insure the tenants liability or belongings, there is still a liability exposure to the condo owner. Insurance companies need to be made aware of this risk and may need to extend liability accordingly. Ms. Henderson says, “It is important insured condo owners discuss their needs with their insurance broker to make sure they have the appropriate coverage in
place. Misrepresentation or withholding a material change in the risk, such as a rental suite, could result in no coverage in the event of a loss.” Daniel Mirkovic, of Square One Insurance agrees. “Absolutely you have to disclose if you have more than one family living in a condo or townhouse,” says Mr. Mirkovic, adding that failure to disclose can lead to problems if and when an owner makes an insurance claim. Mr. Mirkovic said condo owners with secondary suites should be neither hesitant nor reluctant to disclose information about secondary suites. “We are not going to report you (illegal suites); we just want to protect you.” Furthermore, despite the fears of some home-owners, premiums for disclosed secondary suites—legal or otherwise— are relatively small. He reckoned no more than $100 a year. UBC has made ‘co-development’ townhouses with secondary suites part of its building plan since co-developments allow faculty and staff more opportunity to buy homes on campus. Only faculty/staff may purchase homes in co-developments (joint housing projects between faculty/ staff and UBC).
Grand Prix Riders Race On UBC Course Prize money of up to $10,000 is at stake; kids’ race is part of July 10 event The second annual Original 16 Grand Prix will take place July 10 at UBC with Mahony & Sons sponsoring a cycling event expected to attract some of the best male and female riders in North America.
Part of a series called BC Superweek, the UBC Grand Prix for professional riders will have close to 200 riders in attendance, says race director Mark Ernsting. Many of the riders will have represented their countries at international events such as the World Championships, Olympic Games and Grand Tours. The Grand Prix event will also feature a kids’ race that Mr. Ernsting says will allow “our future Olympians” to do one to two laps of the course depending on their age. In the inaugural race last year, a hundred children took part. “When one sees them go, it’s a real highlight of the evening,” the race director said. As well, a Corporate Challenge race will take place this year for the first time. Mr. Ernsting calls the Corporate Challenge more than just a race. “It’s an experience which provides businesses the opportunity to use the race as a platform to bring work colleagues together outside of their regular environment. “This experience is meant to bring the team together using an activity that everyone enjoys - riding their bicycle.”
Starting line for the Kids’ Race, at UBC Grand Prix 2011
THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JUNE 18, 2012
CHALLENGES continued from Page 6
I have other concerns based on other experiences but these suffice to indicate that I have reasons for my concerns. So personally, I have no confidence in the evenhandedness or integrity of Metro Vancouver – either its politicians or processes – to commence a process only when required by the residents, to recognize and respect our special position as residents, to lead an evenhanded review of our governance options and to fairly conduct surveys of fairly chosen populations for the purpose of looking at governance issues, some of which exclusively, others primarily, affect us as residents. But even more to the point, Metro Vancouver no longer has any claim to a role in leading or determining the future of local governance on the UBC campus. Metro Vancouver was relieved of all its responsibilities related to this, at Metro’s request and, in my opinion, as a result of its conduct, in 2010 by the Province. Metro is now a regional service provider and as such, I believe they are entitled to comment on local governance options from that perspective, once we as UNA residents (and to the extent it touches upon UBC, UBC in all its various parts (including other campus residents)) have decided that we want to make some change. And if any change requires legislation then the Province has to decide whether it will give us the necessary legislative mandate. In my opinion our present “governance” model – with a UNA Board controlled by elected residents, with UBC having assigned to us in a written agreement much authority and many rights but with UBC’s Board of Governor’s controlling parts of our “municipal life” - is not perfect. But if you consider the work that we have done and are doing here and the partnership set in motion by Metro Vancouver’s and UBC’s direction to us in the MOU then, while we have not always agreed with UBC as to how the University should deal fairly with a large residential community on its campus and how rights and responsibilities should be shared, UBC has been a good, contemplative partner; and an outstanding one when compared to the deprecation, disinterest, non-consultation and bullying that Metro Vancouver has showed. And while I disagree with Mr. Holmes that our existing model has no or little room for growth to the benefit of residents, I do agree with him that we will never be a true municipality using the existing model. I think that we as residents should be looking at all our options which, in my opinion, include working to continue to improve our present model, examining amalgamation with Vancouver and considering various forms of true municipal status. But all of these options present real challenges and risks and known or knowable costs and benefits. We should carefully examine them all (as, I understand, the UNA Board is in the process of doing in preparation for public consultation within our community). As residents we should have as objective information as we can so that residents can make the best and most informed decision they can concerning determining our residential life going forward. I am entirely with Bill Holmes in supporting this as a goal. I am entirely and intractably opposed to giving Metro Vancouver anything other than the most circumscribed and limited role in the process. Jim Taylor, Resident, Hampton Place
Biodiversity in your backyard By Katie Teed, Senior Manager, Marketing and Communications, UBC Biodiversity Collections This month, we’re taking a break from our regular format to tell you about the abundance of programs we have planned for this summer, including an exciting announcement for campus families. This spring UBC Biodiversity Collections partnered with Campus and Community Planning to create the popular UTown@UBC Nature Club. This was a monthly club for campus children aged 5-12 and their families. Registration filled quickly, so we are pleased to announce that this summer the club will meet weekly! Join us Saturday mornings to explore ocean, urban, forest and wetland ecosystems through hands-on activities and games. In July, sessions will meet at the Beaty Museum for activities inside and outside of the Museum. In August, sessions will take place within the UBC Botanical Garden. Visit botanicalgarden. ubc.ca/utown for information and to register! Over the summer the UBC Biodiversity Collections will investigate the over-arching theme of “Biodiversity and Food” through dynamic programming and exhibits that explore the relationships humans have with our food as well as who eats who in the natural world. The Beaty Biodiversity Museum is investigating the diversity of predator-prey relationships through interactive guided tours that take visitors on a journey to discover the many different ways that plants, animals, fungi and microbes have come up with to nourish themselves and avoid being devoured. Other new activities include a puppet show, scavenger hunt, crafts and activity stations throughout the museum. Until July 22, you can also check out “Feast”, a photo exhibition that presents an intimate look at animals noshing in the wild through stunning photographs by internationally acclaimed nature photographer Brad Hill. Beginning in July, the UBC Botani-
cal Garden will explore the origins and diversity of human food. A drop-in tour will focus on edible biodiversity (visit botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/tours for times). Tour participants will discover plants that belonged to traditional First Nations diets, digest information about wild edible plants, and study the wild relatives of agricultural plants in our food system. The tour will also discuss interesting stories about how some of these wild plants became major contributors to our dinner plates. A new self-guided tour will lead visitors to edible plants in the garden and learn about uncommon vegetables, heirloom varieties, as well as native plants that have been consumed for thousands of years on the British Columbia Coast. Family visitors can embark on a child-friendly scavenger hunt to discover the amazing diversity of edible plants, uncover which parts of plants we eat, hunt for weird vegetables, and learn the importance of bees in food production. Children ages 7-11 can also join the UBC Botanical Garden’s Young Explorer Summer Day Camp. There are two programs to choose from: Eco Explorer investigates the remarkable link that humans have with the environment. Kids will explore how different cultures interact with nature, learn about wild and cultivated foods, and discover how to safely cohabitate with wildlife. Garden Explorer teaches skills and knowledge to become a
High above the forest floor, kids traverse the Greenheart Canopy Walkway at UBC Botanical Garden friendly gardener. Campers will get their hands dirty catching squirmy insects, conjure up (almost) magical potions, and cook up a storm with weird vegetables! And last but not least, the UBC Botanical Garden is pleased to announce a new provincially-accredited Horticulture Training Program. Running from September to May, this full-time program will give students the skills and experience necessary for entering the field of horticulture. We are hosting information sessions on Tuesday June 26th at 7 p.m. and Sunday July 8th at 3 p.m. at the UBC Botanical Garden. The application deadline is July 15. For complete details visit the garden’s website at botanicalgarden.ubc. ca/horticulture-program.
Adventuring through the Garden, campers pose for a photo
THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JUNE 18, 2012
Survey of Birds at UBC Farm Spurs Expressions of Joy For over five years, a group sponsored by Nature Vancouver has been conducting bird surveys at the UBC Farm. The Campus Resident asked members of the group to reflect on what gave them pleasure in surveying birds. We present two personal reflections here.
“After 60 monthly walks on the farm I still find new surprises on every visit.”
“I marvel at the diversity of the birds, the continuity of birdlife through the year...”
As I rode my bike down the last stretch of Wesbrook Mall road to the UBC Farm in early Spring of 2007, I knew I was in the city, but I felt like I was in the country. For several years cycling this roadway I had seen Cedar Waxwings, thrushes, hawks, warblers, Ravens, and many other birds. Approaching the farm to do my first volunteer work, (pulling weeds), I wondered at all the sounds coming from forested borders as well as thick hedges of plants in and around the farm. Dozens of swallows soared above while a resident Redtailed Hawk always seemed to be perched on a tall snag like a sentinel at the farm entrance. When I heard the farm was slated for development I joined two groups of people to record life diversity on the 24 hectare farm; a plant group and a bird survey group. The first group did several walks to record plant life growing around the cultivated plants. We counted 32 species of native plants on the farm edges, 16 types of mosses, and 6 types of fungus and lichens as well as countless numbers of wild herbs such as mints, clovers, and mustard plants. Over five years our bird count group has recorded 105 species of birds including more than 20 nesting species. In that time the Red-tailed Hawk on the snag raised young on the farm edges, as did the Barred Owls, and two Bald Eagles have built a nest in a tree on the farm edge, saved from developers by members of the walk. We see coyotes playing at the farm, one with such thick light fur that I thought it looked a bit like a well-fed wolf, and young pup coyotes watching, curious and alert only a few feet from us as we stood in the path.
Like Sue, I walked the woods and fields of the South Campus long before development there started and eagerly took up the challenge to preserve the Farm and its forest. Some of us at Nature Vancouver thought it would be a good project to initiate bird surveys at UBC Farm and so we’ve been at it once a month ever since, rain or shine...even snow. (One December when we were out doing the Christmas count, it was hard to concentrate on the birds, it was so intriguing watching the coyotes hunting; tracking and pouncing into the snow for the voles.) Aside from the sights and sounds of the birds it has been wonderful to watch how the farm and the birds have adapted to each other. Specific birds gravitate to various crops moving around from year to year and with the monthly calendar. We see the killdeer when the fields are freshly plowed and seeded, then they move on once the crop grows. Maturing buckwheat and the drying over-wintering stalks attracted large crowds of sparrows (about six different species) and then, as Sue described, the year they did a large sunflower study, the birds—finches, chickadees and even woodpeckers and towhees—were hard at work cleaning up the spent crop. We were happy to interact with the farm folk and thrilled when they planted luxurious hedgerows of native plantings, just what the birds ordered! (Such hedgerows are vital for protection and nesting for the smaller birds).The hop growing structure with wires and poles made a fantastic perch the winter the kestrel visited, and in the spring when the coast was clear, the barn swallows and their families used it as a gathering place before their fly-catching flights. For myself, I marvel at the diversity of the birds, the continuity of birdlife through the year, each spring and fall migration, who elects to over-winter.
Members of the UBC Farm bird survey group look at the eagle’s nest high above the farm gate. From left to right: Dorothy Woodhouse; Bev Ramey; Bill Ramey; and Sue Kay-Downs. One day, three species of hawk, one falcon, and one kestrel were on the farm on the same morning. That day was quieter as most birds huddled in secret safe spots. Then one tiny Annas Hummingbird rocketed up into the sky and chased away the Peregrine Falcon. The Peregrine Falcon is known to be the fastest animal on earth reaching speeds of over 200 miles an hour in a dive. The tiny hummingbird moving at 50 mph still moves a daunting 383 times its body length in a second which was enough to chase the falcon away that day. In our five years of bird walks we have heard a sometimes confusing symphony of sounds at the farm ranging from the ethereal music of the Swainson’s Thrush
to the maniacal call of the Pileated Woodpecker, as well as the hoots of the owls, with the tree frogs and Douglas squirrels sometimes making bird-like sounds that surprised me. We have seen the brilliant orange of the Rufous Hummingbirds and rusty oranges of thrushes and grosbeaks; the sunflower yellows of warblers, Western Tanagers, and Goldfinches, the blues of the jays and nuthatches, reds of the House and Purple Finches, brilliant greens of the Violet- Green swallows and hummingbirds. High above we have seen swifts flying, and low to the ground Fox Sparrows and Towhees. After 60 monthly walks on the farm I still find new surprises on every visit.
Recipes from the UBC Farm By Chef Josh McWilliams Spring is a great time to cook with fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. It is the best way to enjoy the flavour and nutrients of any food. Rhubarb is one of spring’s first harvests; it is now being harvested at UBC Farm. Rhubarb grows well in the cooler climates of the northern United States and southern Canada. At this time of year, local rhubarb can be found in many backyards throughout Metro Vancouver, and in your neighbourhood supermarket. Choose firm, good-coloured stalks; they stay fresh for two weeks in your fridge. Although rhubarb is a vegetable, it is often used as a fruit. Rhubarb makes a delicious stew by itself, and it can be cooked down quickly. Simply cut one pound of rhubarb into cubes, stir in ¼ cup of water, ½ cup of sugar, and, if desired, add one or more of your favourite seasonings. Cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom, star anise, orange zest, ginger, lemon grass and dried fruits all go well
with rhubarb. And don’t forget rhubarb’s best companion, strawberries. Here are some great rhubarb ideas are: • Duck breast with rhubarb compote • Rhubarb strawberry crêpes or waffles • Rhubarb coffee cake • Rhubarb blue cheese toast One of my favourite rhubarb recipes is Goat Cheese Spinach Salad with Rhubarb. Ingredients for salad: 60 gm Goat cheese – feta 80 gm Spinach 10 gm Thinly-sliced red onion 40 gm Caramelized rhubarb cubes 20 ml Rhubarb dressing Ingredients for Rhubarb Purée: 2 pounds of rhubarb 200 ml sugar Ingredients for dressing: 90 ml Rhubarb purée 60 ml Canola oil 40 ml Champagne vinegar 15 ml Honey Cracked pepper and seasoning Directions for Rhubarb Purée: Stew 2 pounds of rhubarb and 200 ml of sugar for about ten minutes. Purée until
smooth. Cool. Directions for dressing: Mix 90 ml Rhubarb purée with canola oil and Champagne vinegar. Add honey and season with salt and pepper. Directions for salad: Toss the spinach with the thinly-sliced red onion, crumbled goat cheese, caramelized rhubarb cubes and dressing. Season to taste. Josh McWilliams is chef at the Point Grill Restaurant, UBC
The Bird-Survey Group meets on the third Sunday of each month at the UBC Farm gate. Time varies according to season: March September 0800, October - February 0900. A spokesperson for the group, said, “We are a relaxed and congenial group who welcomes anyone, novice or expert alike.” You may check out their bird list at the UBC Farm gate notice board. More information, go to www.naturevancouver.ca.
Strawberry Tea at Church
Goat Cheese Spinach Salad with Rhubarb.
Enjoy a delicious Strawberry Tea at St. Anselm’s Anglican Church June 23rd , 2 PM - 4:30 PM. Tickets are $10 adults, $5 children over four years, available at the door. Call 604 224 1410, or visit church website www.stanselms.ca
THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JUNE 18, 2012
EVENTS IN YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD
Canada Day at The Old Barn Community Centre
Evening in the Park
Friday Concert Series 5pm - 6:30pm July 13 - Jim Taylor Park July 27 - Iona Green Park free!
Aug 10 - Michael Smith Park Aug 24 - Jim Taylor Park
10:00am - 1:00pm join us for a 20 minute group
family fun run/walk
bring a picnic and enjoy the day!
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Keep an eye out for details about Barn Raising - September 8, 2012!
For more information, please contact The Old Barn Community Centre
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