Thursday, November 26, 2009

Metro -UBC issue in the Georgia Straight

The Georgia Straight continues its coverage of the UBC/Metro Bylaw/Governance issue with a story in the Straight's real estate section. According to the Straight:

At the heart of the recent tensions between Metro Vancouver and UBC is a draft bylaw that lays out guidelines for development on campus.

The Metro Vancouver document spells out a range of permitted uses, maximum heights, and floor-space ratios in eight land-use zones within the campus, as well as a process for UBC to apply for uses not permitted by the bylaw.

The regional body’s move to regulate campus development has drawn a strong reaction from UBC president Stephen Toope, who described it in a November 14 e-mail to the university community as a threat to academic freedom. He argued that it will harm the university’s ability to begin projects quickly enough to satisfy outside funding sources.Metro Vancouver seeks UBC on-campus development bylaw | Vancouver, Canada |

At the Joint UBC-GVRD Committee meeting last evening (live twitter report of meeting) it was very clear that metro is no longer satisfied with the status quo. According to Director Derrick Corrigan, it's time for Metro to make a decision. 'If we are left to govern, we will govern like a local area government,' Corrigan stated. He went on to say to the UBC Board of Governors at the meeting that "if you don't like what we have proposed then be your own government."

Faculty member Irving,UBC BoG rep, pushed hard on the point of whether or not Metro had unilaterally backed out of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Metro and UBC. Electoral Area 'A' rep Maria Harris seemed to be saying that yes, Metro had stepped away from the MOU, then that no they hadn't. At which point Director Corrigan interceded and said that Metro had not yet stepped away from the MOU. However, and in face of the ongoing problems with UBC over development concerns, Metro was no longer going to take the heat without have the measures in place to regulate the process. If there is no alternative presented that puts local government in place then Metro will step in to take up it's legal responsibility to act as the local area government for the UBC area.

It seems that the status quo is finally no longer an acceptable option to Metro and that this is becoming more apparent to UBC administration.

A source close to the top levels of UBC's administration commented to me after the meeting that it's obvious that the governance structure at UBC will have to change and that the province will need to be involved.