Sunday, November 16, 2008

Repurposing of Blog

With the end of the election this blog is being 'repurposed' to focus on issues and news within University Town.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thank you!

Dear Neighbours,

The results are in and our new Director for Electoral Area 'A' is UEL resident, Maria Harris.
I look forward to working Maria and other community members to make certain that the diversity of voices our our communities are heard. As is often the case with first past the post systems Maria has won with 29%, significantly less than a plurality. This places a heavy burden upon our new Director to make certain that she can indeed reach out and include the diversity of voices within our communitites. I pledge to work with Maria to ensure that all our voices are heard.

With warm regards and thanks,

Charles Menzies
  • Maria Harris - 219 votes
  • Charles Menzies - 125 votes
  • Matthew Naylor - 66 votes
  • Fred Pritchard - 124 votes
  • Ben West - 209 votes

Friends of the UBC Farm blog on West and Menzies (#2)

Live on campus or in the UEL? How to vote!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Straight covers Electoral Area 'A' election

Candidates fear low voter turnout for UBC |

Two candidates for regional office have slammed Metro Vancouver for failing to inform UBC students and other residents of the vast Electoral Area A that there’s an election going on. Green party activist Ben West and education advocate Charles Menzies both told the Straight that extremely low voter turnout in former elections is related to shoddy communications.

“We have no real, effective government,” Menzies, who is a UBC associate professor of anthropology, said.
Charles' opening and closing remarks from the November 12th All Candidates' Meeting at Acadia Commons Block can be listened to here.
Candidates spar in an empty room | Ubyssey Online

“This isn’t quite a dead community,” Charles Menzies said at one point during Wednesday night’s Electoral Area A debate. The comment was somewhat ironic, coming out in front of no more than 20 people. Nonetheless, the five people vying to become the only elected municipal representative for the UBC area energetically debated their ideas at the Acadia Park Commonsblock in their final encounter before voters cast their ballots this Saturday.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Q&A from first all candidate's meeting.

Director, Metro Vancouver Electoral Area A all candidates meeting, Oct. 29, 2008.

The University Neighbourhoods Association hosted an all candidates forum electoral area A candidates on Oct. 29, 2008 at the Old Barn Community Centre in Hawthorn Place.

All five candidates, Maria Harris, Charles Menzies, Mathew Naylor, Fred Pritchard, and Ben West, attended.

The filming and video streaming of this event was volunteered by the Ethnographic Film Unit at UBC.

Charles' speaking notes for the Oct. 29th all candidate's forum can be found here.
An audio version of Charles' opening comments for the Nov. 6th all candidate's forum can be found here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Action Now!

It’s time that we addressed the democratic deficit in Electoral Area ‘A’ by:
  • Creating a separate elected Director for the Islands.
  • Establishing representative local democracy for West Point Grey that respects the unique histories of the UEL and the University Town and includes students.
  • Creating a permanent voters’ list.
  • Turning taxes into real services for all electoral area ‘A’ residents.
We must maintain and enhance our greenspaces, agricultural and woodland areas. This must be done in a manner that respects our local voices.
  • At UBC this means that the UBC Farm must remain as it is and be designated agricultural and academic research reserve. No housing on the farm.
Development without proper schools, community centres, or adequate green and open spaces is socially and ecologically unsound. University Town is an exciting and safe place to raise a family. Let’s keep it that way! Community plans are fine but what we need is action. We need schools, community centres, and safe open spaces today. The Director of Electoral Area 'A' has a critical role to play in ensuring that words become actions.

If elected I will hold public town hall meetings in our communities in Electoral Area ‘A.’. I will be available for you in person and online. I will work with the UEL, UNA, Katzie Nation, and the Island Residents’ Associations to ensure that local issues are dealt with in a manner that respects our unique histories. As director I will build upon my history of working with a diversity of people to ensure that our voices are heard and our needs are met.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

News Coverage of Electoral Area 'A' Campaign

Electoral A candidates talk for the first time | Ubyssey Online

The race heated up in Electoral Area A last week, as the five candidates for Director duked it out at a debate in the Old Barn Community Centre.

The University Neighbourhoods Association (UNA), which hosted the debate, asked candidates to discuss their positions on governance, transit and the futures of Pacific Spirit Regional Park and the UBC Farm. It was the first time candidates met to debate the issues publicly.

This year’s race gives voters a choice of five candidates:
• Maria Harris, an economist and member of the ratepayer’s Association;
• Charles Menzies, a UBC professor of anthropology and member of the University Neighbourhoods Association;
• Matthew Naylor, a fourth-year political science student and resident of UBC;
• Fred Pritchard, former associate vice-president of Campus and Community Planning at UBC and resident of University Town;
• Ben West, a Vancouver resident and a Healthy Communities campaigner for the Western Canada Wilderness Committee;

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Supporting Effective Leadership in School Board

As residents in the UBC/UEL portions of Electoral Area 'A' we are also able to vote for candiadtes to the Vancouver Board of Education. Being able to have a voice and an impact in the Vancouver Board of Education discussions is critically important for our community.

Over the past decade essentially uncontrolled development at UBC and in the UEL has increased the pressure on our two local schools -University Hill Elementary and University Hill Secondary. Both schools are seriously over capacity and many of our more than 1500 school aged children are forced to find school placements outside of our community. This has to stop.

For close to a decade rebuilding and expanding school facilities have been held up in a "he siad, she said" tug-of-war. UBC administrators and officials in the planning department and UBC Properties Trust say they have plans to solve our school needs but that the School Board doesn't do anything. The VSB officials have said that they are willing to move forward but given the provincial government's rules and regulations they are stuck. And the provincial government? Well, they have remained mostly silent. Meanwhile the situation continues to worsen as new developments are opened across campus and in the UEL.

One thing that we need and that we can do something about is to make sure that we have a school board who will listen and who will care about our communities.

In this year's school board election I am supporting individuals, not political parties.

In this year’s election I will be supporting Patti Bacchus (Vision), Ken Clement (Vision), Carol Gibson (NPA), Alan Wong (COPE). I am voting for these people because of what they have done either for public education or for their particular communities. They come from different political parties but what they share is a real commitment to education and a demonstrated capacity to listen to our community. There are other candidates who stand out, but these four candidates have a track record of listening to and working with diverse groups of people. These people have demonstrated the capacity to listen. And, they have the courage of their convictions to act when action is called for.

Patti Bacchus has been a long time parent activist. While I was on the Vancouver District Parents Advisory Council executive I have seen Patti at work as a committed parent activist. She is just the type of person that we need on school board.

Ken Clement is a strong community -based activist who is committed to an inclusive education system.

Carol Gibson was one trustee who really stood up for our local schools during the last year. She is honest and forthright and deserves to be reelected.

Alan Wong is a current trustee. As a member of DPAC I have worked with Alan and know him to be a committed and honest person who will do what is best for our students.

On November 15th I will be voting for effecitve local leadership.
I will be voting for Bacchus, Clement, Gibson and Wong.

Governance and Local Issues in Electoral Area A

The structure of Electoral Area ‘A’ leads to an exclusion of the smaller portions of the area as issues from UBC and the UEL often takes precedence. This is one of the reasons that I believe the electoral Area should be divided into a more effective arrangement and that the Point Grey portions should move toward some form of municipal government wither as a combined area or, perhaps, as two separate municipal structures. There are a number of possible ways that could be done. But the key thing to me is that elected representatives should be based in the localities that they strive to represent. The differences in terms of issues facing the Point Grey portion from the Islands portion of the electoral area leads me to say that the Islands areas should have their own elected director. This would avoid UBC/UEL playing a disproportionate role in the local affairs of the areas outside of Point Grey.

It has also become clear that the internal politics of the City of Vancouver is playing a large role in this year's election. My position on this matter is consistent with my belief that local government should be filled with local representatives who have a long-term commitment to living and working within our communities. Local representatives for local level government should be a requirement, not an option.

The issues around development and the Agricultural Land Reserve loom large for Barnston Island residents. Over the past number of years the question of removal of lands for development has been an issue. I have a personal perspective on the general principals involved -i.e. I support the maintenance of green space, woodland areas and agricultural lands. However, I consider that these are decisions that need to be made in the local setting by the people most directly affected by them. If elected I will work with communities to achieve a resolution of such issues; resolutions that are accurate and honest expression of the full community; not a reflection of any external political agenda.

At UBC the issue of the UBC Farm is taking much space in local discussions. This is a similar issue to the question of lands in Barnston Island. As a long term resident at UBC I am directly involved in my community. As such I feel that I have a right and an obligation to take a perspective on this local issue. In terms of the UBC Farm I have proposed that it be set aside from UBC's current planning process and that the main questions of the UBC Plan be dealt with.

I bring to the position of Metro Vancouver Director for Electoral Area ‘A’ a diversity of community endorsement from people across the political spectrum. Endorsers are community members and leaders directly involved in our communities. I am endorsed because I work hard in my community to find solutions that work in the real world; solutions that respect the diversity of our communities.

On November 15, 2008 Vote Menzies for Effective Local Leadership.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Diversity of Support for Charles

Support for Charles’ election as Director reflects his long-term commitment to building a livable community in the UEL/UBC area. Charles has won the regard and support of people from across diverse political backgrounds because he works hard at making democracy real in practice.

On the schools committee of the UNA Charles worked to ensure that all parents voices could be heard. Working with a community-based team of volunteers the schools committee reached out across language and cultural barriers to bring forward voices being silenced.

In 2001, before the UNA was in place, Charles worked with other new residents of the mid-campus (Hawthorn Place) to make certain that UBC Properties Trust and UBC took notice of our concerns. The Hawthorn Lane Residents’ Association (latter, Hawthorn Place Residents’ Association) brought these concerns forward in a collaborative and participatory manner. This experience has laid the foundation for a collaborative, but insistent, approach toward building and expanding the democratic reach of our local associations.

We need local representatives who have demonstrated that they can work with our community.
We need local representatives who are based in our community.
We need local representatives who are here for the long haul.

On November 15 vote Effective Local Leadership.
On November 15 elect Charles for Metro Vancouver Director

Here’s a sample of what some community leaders are saying about Charles’ ability to work effectively for our community.

“Charles has worked tirelessly for our neighbourhood and has shown real knowledge and understanding of the issues and challenges that we face as a young community. ” Sharon Wu and Tony Chau. Hawthorn Place residents

“Charles Menzies has a proven track record as a community leader who works tirelessly for positive change.” Patti Bacchus, Vision Vancouver candidate for trustee and parent advocate.

Charles “has the full welfare of our community at heart. He will be a strong leader who will represent our interests in the Board of Metro Vancouver and I strongly urge you to vote for him.” Prod Laquian Elected Member, UNA Board of Directors

Charles "cares passionately about his community and its schools. He is always thoughtful and reflective about the many issues that arise and is diligent in ensuring that there is a solid, factual foundation for the points of view that he expresses. I would expect him to work hard and effectively in the role of Metro Vancouver Director and wish him every success in seeking election." Eleanor Gregory, VSB Trustee

Charles “is devoted to the community, and an effective listener and consensus-builder.” Jonathan Vogt, Former Chair UHS Parents Advisory Council.

Charles “is respectful of the diversity within the community and is aware of the needs of the academic enterprise as well as the community service needs in this rapidly developing community.” Carol Gibson, Trustee and Vice-Chair of the Vancouver School Board.

“We could not ask for a better neighbour. I know he [Charles] will represent us well on the Metro Vancouver Board.” Jim Taylor, Former Chair, UNA Board.

Effective Local Leadership

Charles is a strong supporter of community-based democracy. As the chair of the Schools Action Committee of the University Neighbourhoods Association at UBC Charles has advocated on behalf of his community for appropriate school and community facilities. Many of our children are forced to bus away from their neighbourhoods. Many others are turned away with little consideration. Development pressure at UBC is impacting upon public green spaces, such as the UBC Farm, increasing pressure on social amenities, and contributing to the lack of public school spaces for our children.

It’s time for real political leadership and real local government. The status quo might work for a few, but not for the rest of us.

The current Metro Vancouver system cannot deal with local issues in the same manner that a 'real' municipal government might be able to. For some of us living west of Blanca in Metro Vancouver local associations have provided some redress; but our local associations don't have the legal authority to deal with many of the issues that we must face as our community west of Blanca grows into a medium-sized city of several thousand residents.

Over the past several years increasing development by UBC and in the UEL has placed increasing pressure on local facilities such as schools and community centres. As a result of our lack of real political power and our lack of our own local government very little gets done to meet our needs and our concerns.

The University Neighbourhoods Association and the local council in the UEL do have some capacity to intervene and advocate for local needs. However, UBC, Metro Vancouver, the province, and the Vancouver Board of Education only seem to listen to us as a measure of last recourse.

One way to deal with this is to make certain that we have real local government. However, achieving local government will take several years. In the meantime we need to make certain that we involve ourselves in the local elections that we have involvement in: Metro Vancouver Board of Directors and the Vancouver Board of Education.

I am running for the position of Electoral Area A, which includes Metro Vancouver west of Blanca (UEL/UBC/UNA), Bowyer, Passage, and Barnston Island, and a large swath of unincorporated lands to the north of Metro Vancouver.

I am also urging UBC/UEL residents to vote for school trustees who care about working with our community to deal with inadequate educational facilities. In future posts I will be listing the trustees that I plan to endorse as candidates who care about the needs of our local children.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Tyee on Electoral Area 'A'

From online news source The Tyee's political blog "The Hook"

"A UBC professor is vying for Director in an election few people know is even taking place.

“It's a real head-scratcher,” laughed Charles Menzies, a professor of Anthropology running against four candidates in Metro Vancouver Electoral Area A. “People look at me quizzically when I tell them about the race.”

For the benefit of the head-scratchers, the electoral area is a seemingly haphazard collection of everything that’s not in another district.

It includes the University of British Columbia campus and endowment lands, Bowyer, Passage and Barnston islands and a large chunk of unincorporated land north of Metro Vancouver."

Vancouver Sun Survey for Candidates in Electoral Area A

Every candidate running for local area elections was provided with an opportunity to complete a Vancouver Sun survey. Of the five Electoral Area 'A' candidates I was the only one to actually fill in the survey.

You can find the listing of all five candidates on the Vancouver Sun page here.

You can find my replies to the Sun's questions here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Save the UBC Farm and the UBC Campus Planning Process

It’s time to do something about the UBC Farm and the planning process.

The future of the UBC Farm is on the minds of many of the people attending the current series of planning workshop being hosted by UBC Campus Planning. Today’s workshop was no exception –about 80% of the people there were there because of the farm and many were affiliated with Friends of the UBC Farm.

The big picture goals and objectives of the planning process is concerned with thinking about and considering how to lay out the groundwork for the next two decades of building and design on UBC’s main campus. From this vantage point the underlying questions lead us to consider where and how to build student housing, how to integrate academic, residential, and services, how to organize transportation and movement through and around camps, and ways to build and enhance a strong sense of community. These are important questions. However, the combination of the planning process and a well-organized committed community organization is leading toward political gridlock.

The student organizations, the off-campus community supporters, the faculty support groups (of which I see myself a member of), have clearly brought the question of the farm front and center. Only the most myopic observer could say that there are no concerns about the way the farm is being dealt with in this planning process.

It’s very clear. As long as the farm is not dealt with we won’t be able to get to the big picture questions. We will have gridlock. It's time to find a way forward to solve this immediate problem so that we can move on to deal with the big questions.

If we, both community and off-campus participants, are honest in our intentions to collaboratively engage in the planning process we'll seek a realistic solution to the planning impasse. We need to find a way to facilitate an opening for the diversity of voices that make up the UBC community. If we fail in being inclussion in planning then the plan itself -whether or not the Farm is saved- will be a failure.

The way forward.
The first thing we must do is set the 24 hectares under question aside. Pull the farm and associated woodlands out of the discussion. Set up a multi-party stakeholder group to examine the issue and report back within a clearly defined timeframe. Once the farm issue is set aside for full discussion with all of the voices at the table we will be able to turn to the fundamental big picture questions that need to be address in the campus plan.

Once the multi-party stakeholder group on the farm and associated woodland area is in place we can then proceed to consider the big questions of the full campus plan and open the process to the full diversity of voices that in fact make up our community at UBC.

View Larger Map

Monday, October 20, 2008

Charles Menzies 先生目前正在竞选 UEL 和 UBC 地区的负责人。

Charles Menzies 先生目前正在竞选 UEL 和 UBC 地区的负责人。
Charles 先生和他的家人从1996年至今一直住在UBC。他一直以志愿者的身份,成为University Hill初中家长以及UNA 的咨询顾问。
Charles 先生是一位强烈的地区提倡者,他说:“如果我们有权力说服政府官员倾听我们的建议,我们的社区将会更加富有,我们孩子的生活将会更加的美好”。

11月15日 选举日
请选举Charles Menzies 作为负责人

你可以选举,如果你18岁或者18岁以上,作为加拿大公民,或者你是BC省的永久居民在UBC或者UEL 住了至少30天。

选举将安排在University Hill Secondary School, 11月15日早上8点至晚上8点。

需要了解更多的关于选举Charles 先生的信息,请致电 604-318-2504

Friday, October 17, 2008

Four of five candidates provide profiles on the GVRD elction webpage

Four of the five candidates -Harris, Menzies, Naylor, and West- provide candidate profiles for the upcoming election for Director of Area 'A.'

You can read the profiles of the four candidates here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Charles -a community builder; a community member

Charles has lived in the UBC/UEL portion of Electoral Area A since 1996.

Charles' children have attended school in the area since they started kindergarten at Ecole Jules Quesnel, at Crown and 16th in Vancouver proper. Today, one of his son's is at University Hill Secondary and the other is at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary. Charles is currently co-chair of the University Hill Secondary Parents Advisory Council. He has served previously on the JQ PAC and the Queen Elizabeth Elementary PAC as an executive member. He is currently on leave from the Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council executive during the period of this election.

Charles was a founding member of the Vision Vancouver Education Committee. As a Vision Vancouver member Charles has supported the development of Vision's education platform and is an active supporter of Patti Bacchus, Ken Clement, and Mike Lombardi for Vancouver School Trustees. Charles also supports Carol Gibson of the NPA and Alan Wong, Bill Bargeman, and Jane Bouey of COPE for School Trustees. As a parent involved directly in the life of his children's schools it is clear to Charles that success is built upon cooperation across the political spectrum. At the end of the day it's what's important for our children's education that is more important than party politics.

It's the same in our community - we need local leadership, we need local representatives. Political accords designed to ensure the election of a particular party's mayor in Vancouver have no place in our community. While Vancouver looms large and many residents of that fine city enjoy the recreational opportunities of where we live, their concerns should not be the ones that drive our local processes.

Charles has worked at the local level over the long haul. He has been involved in campus planning processes, such as the south campus working group, the creation of a local residents' association, and more recently on the UNA schools committee. Charles was a founding member of the planning committee that designed and oversaw the building of the UNA's first community centre, the Old Barn Community Centre. Charles lives, works, and volunteers in this community. Charles is a neighbour and a committed community builder.

As a resident of Hawthorn Place (Mid-campus and the former B Lot Parking) Charles knows what it takes to build communities that are respectful and considerate. It's not something that a person can do jumping in from outside.

For local effective leadership -Vote for Charles on November 15.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Working together for a sustainable community

As a university researcher my primary focus has been researching and writing about more effective ecologically sound approaches to the use of our natural resources. Our research group, Forests and Oceans for the Future, takes as it's fundamental purpose not simply studying ecologically sound use, but the development of policies and programmes that work in real-time for real people.

From my work with north coast First Nations to research with commercial fishermen in Brittany and Ireland my objective is to find realistic solutions to real-world problems. Academics are often accused of Ivory Tower or impractical solutions. I have to tell you though there's no space for Ivory Tower when you are standing face-to-face with a fisherman who's livelihood is ending due to mismanagement by big government or sitting in the kitchen of a First Nation elder who is struggling desperately to keep language and traditions living.

I apply the same direct, realtime solutions in the work I do in my community. Since 1996 I have worked in schools as a volunteer and as a participant in parent advisory councils at Ecole Jule Quesnel, Queen Elizabeth Elementary, and University Hill Secondary. I have also participated as an elected district parent representative in the Vancouver School District.

In my residential community on the UBC campus I have worked to make certain that we have positive environmentally friendly living spaces that take into account the multi-generational reality of our society. Our parks, greenspaces, and areas of second growth forest need to have toddlers, youths, elders and the middle aged. Diversity leads to resiliency -and without resilience we are socially and ecologically bankrupt.

We need local leaders who are willing to work with diversity, who aren't afraid of being wrong, who are tolerant and open to collaboration. As a parent working in school-based advisory councils I know that collaboration and cooperation is the only way to move forward. That's the same thing for our electoral area. As long as one small group controls access to power no one will truly be able to move forward.

As your elected Director for our area I pledge to ensure that all voices are heard -this doesn't mean that I will do what each elector thinks I should. But it does mean that when I act I will act in the full knowledge of all of our community -students, UEL ratepayers and renters, and UNA residents.

Vote Menzies - Effective Local Leadership.