Friday, September 28, 2012

Moving Forward to Get Things Done!

Menzies, Alexander, & Wu. Credit: Hogan Wong, The Ubyssey
With the dust of the election campaign barely settled Menzies, Alexander, and Wu (pictured left) are ready get things moving.  As part of the OUR platform we committed to a more open and democratic structure for the UNA.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Report on the UNA AGM

            Annual general meetings are rarely exciting events even if they are important to the life of an organization.  Last night’s UNA AGM was no exception.  Several major by-law changes were passed and one significant bylaw change was rejected.  Changes to the bylaws now make the addition of new directors a more automatic process, have removed a designated faculty/staff elected resident director position, and have made 18 years of age the official minimum age that one can be a UNA member.  A proposal to remove the clause that allowed the Chair of the UNA to break tie votes was defeated. 
            The only kerfuffle of note came when I rose to table the motion removing a designated faculty/staff resident director position.  A resounding circus of confusion followed. Unfortunately many people present did not understand what a motion to table actual means.  Nor did they understand what the proper procedure to follow was.  When the chair asked for direction many audience members said skip the motion to table. 
            “Do we vote on Charles’ motion,” asked the chair. 
            “No!” shouted out a crowd in the back of the room.  
            Momentary mayhem followed.
            Not until Jim Taylor, former UNA Chair and long time area resident, interjected was order restored. 
            “A motion to table must be considered immediately.  All that can be debated in the length of time. We must vote now.” 
            The motion to table lost by a handful of votes and we then proceeded to vote on the main motion that ended with passing a change in the bylaws that took away the faculty/staff designated seat on the board.  In retrospect I rather wished I hadn’t moved a motion to table the resolution as the ensuing confusion lead to a 30 minute delay that, had the rules of order been followed could have been dealt with in all of five minutes.  But what is a meeting without some heated discussion and a little bit of mayhem?  The meeting continued with the votes on the remaining bylaw resolutions proceeding with little debate or discussion. 
            The resolution on the Chair’s second or casting vote in event of a tie was defeated with little debate.  It was clear from the outset that the audience had made it’s mind up on that decision and a massive majority defeated it.  Meeting attendees argued that in the event of a tie and no casting vote for the chair (who is typically a resident) the balance of power would in practice fall to the appointed directors.
            The meeting ended with a detailed presentation by Jim Taylor on his four options for local governance: (1) status quo (2) amalgamation with Vancouver (3) local municipal government, or (4) special municipal government. 
            Jim walked us through each of these options explaining his personal thoughts on why they were good or bad. As one of the architect of our current governance structure Jim sees much of value in maintaining some form of the status quo (he sometimes talks about an ‘enhanced’ status quo). 
            Jim also expressed his fears of a Vancouver take over and the ill effects that would lead to. As the presentation went on Jim focused on how being absorbed into Vancouver would lead to drops in the quality of life, declines in services, and ultimately the devaluation of property values.  Unfortunately no evidence was provided to substantiate any of these opinions.  The truth is that Vancouver does not want the UNA.  The only politician who has in any way advanced this idea is failed conservative NPA mayoralty candidate Susan Anton who is on public record advocating the inclusion of the UNA and UEL within Vancouver. 
            Jim also suggested that if we achieved a real local government, residents like “a visiting professor from Arkansas” would be deprived a vote in the UNA and we would end up with a two-tiered community.  “I want to be able to walk past my neighbour knowing they have the same rights that I do,” Jim said.  If we go down the route of real democracy “we’ll have absentee landlords from Toronto voting in our elections.” Jim is correct that many of the residents in Vancouver and in our community are not Canadian citizens, which is the typical basic criteria to be able to vote in local, provincial, or national elections.   This is the standard that most democracies uphold.  However, there is nothing that says our own local governance system couldn’t be created in such a way that all residents who have made a commitment to make this their home, all permanent residents, can be able to vote.  However, raising it as he did and in the manner that he did acts to create a wedge between peoples, it creates conflict where none exists.   There are good reasons to make sure that people who participate in a democracy have a real stake in the outcome, not a short term real estate investment or a short holiday here, but a long term commitment to make this country their home.  One of the ways that people do that is to begin the journey of becoming a permanent resident and ultimately a Canadian citizen.  While we may have abstract augments and critiques of the problems with citizenship, for the moment becoming a citizen is a critical act of commitment to belonging and an acceptance of the obligations and responsibilities of a real democracy. 
             At the close of Jim’s talk the election results were announced: OUR’s community-based, resident team of Alexander, Menzies, and Wu won a decisive electoral victory with more than2/3rds support of the electorate!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

OUR Sweeps UNA Elections

Thank you to the UNA membership for putting your trust in myself, Richard, and Shaohong.  We look forward to serving and measuring up to the trust you have placed in us!

OUR candidates won a decisive electoral victory this evening in the 2012 UNA resident directors election.  While we knew that at least two of us would be elected (there were four candidates vying for three spots) we felt it important that all three candidates win and that our election would be a decisive majority of the membership vote.  We did it on both counts.

640 ballots were cast. The vote break down is as follows:
  • Richard Alexander  406 
  • Charles Menzies      396
  • Shaohong Wu         364
  • Ada Dong              237
About 640 people voted.  OUR candidates were supported by a 2/3rds majority of those who voted.

The work starts now on bringing a real, effective, and democratic voice home to the University Town!

UNA Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the UNA is Wed., Sept. 26 at the Old Barn Community Centre.  The meeting starts at 7:00pm.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ubyssey news story on proposed Westbrook Community Centre

Ubyssey Story on the Westbrook Community Centre
The next stage in the growing development of South Campus is a new 30,000-square-foot community centre.
The new centre is slated to have a gym, general meeting and multipurpose rooms along with a dance studio and café space. Construction of the centre is set to start this winter.
Charles Menzies, a campus resident since 1996, said that current community facilities on campus are limited and cramped. The Wesbrook area is expected to grow to 6,250 households over the next 15 years.
“It’s the Manhattanizing of this campus. They have nine high-rise buildings planned, and several that are already here.… They’re basically somewhere around 40 per cent increase on campus population, and that’s gonna put a big strain on the campus population, insofar as space,” said Menzies.
Con't reading here

Friday, September 21, 2012

Mike Feeley, former UNA Chair Endorses Menzies for UNA Director

Mike Feeley, former UNA chair and longtime Hawthorn Place resident offers his endorsement of my candidacy for the UNA Board!  Thank you Mike.
The UNA elections this year are particularly important, I think.  We face a number of challenging issues as a community, both tactical and strategic, at a time of substantial turnover on the Board.  I am thus particularly happy that Charles has decided to run this year.

I have know Charles since 2000 when we both moved into the first residential building in Hawthorn Place.   We started out as 12 families living in a middle of a parking lot and then construction site.  As our neighbourhood grew, Charles helped to create community bonds by organizing a Halloween celebration for several years and by constructing an email list (now uptown-neighbours).  He spoke out to help ensure our parks had adequate play areas for children.  He helped organize our grass-roots effort to bring new and renewed public schools to campus.  He helped us devise a sane and effective parking policy for the neighbourhood.  The list is long.  Through all of this Charles has shown himself to be a thoughtful and outspoken community leader.  He understands the issues we face better than most.  His commitment to fairness and openness is above reproach.  And he is deeply committed to our community.

For all these reasons I strongly endorse Charles for a seat on the UNA Board.  

Mike Feeley

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Why an organization like OUR?

Why is an organization like OUR needed? Is it not one of the UNA’s roles to advocate on behalf of residents? Indeed, the election material mailed to all UNA members in late August states that “the UNA advocates on behalf of the community on issues of major importance to residents.”

The reality is that the UNA has not proven itself to be a strong advocate on certain issues, particularly those relating to land use planning. This may be because the regular business of the UNA occupies all the time and effort of the directors. Or, for issues where residents’ interests are in conflict with those of UBC, it may be because the UNA lacks sufficient independence from the University. Whatever the reasons, it is clear that residents need a stronger voice to stand up for their interests. OUR provides that voice.

OUR also has concerns with the functioning of the UNA itself. These include the failure to consult sufficiently with residents, the inadequate role for elected directors, and the UNA’s slow processes for doing things. Often, it takes pressure from outside before an organization will consider reforms. OUR intends to be the source of pressure for reform of the UNA.

With elected directors who share OUR's concerns, the UNA could take on a more vigorous role in representing residents and could be willing to implement reforms. That is why OUR is supporting a slate of candidates in the present UNA election. Even with the election of these candidates, there will continue to be a role for OUR, for example in providing input to the UNA.

The U-Town community has reached a stage in its development where an examination of governance options is desirable. There may be an option that is preferable to continuing with the UNA. This is a matter that transcends the UNA, and would best be undertaken as a resident-led process. OUR is seeking to be the catalyst for such a process.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

OUR (UBC居民自发联合协会) 候选人竞选平台 - 社区土地利用总体规划和发展

OUR (UBC居民自发联合协会) 候选人竞选平台
- 社区土地利用总体规划和发展

作为UBC居民自发联合协会 (OUR候选人竟选平台的一部分, 理查德·亚历山大 (Richard Alexander),查尔斯·孟席斯 (Charles Menzies)和武绍宏(Shaohong Wu)承诺, 如果当选,他们将争取让社区居民在土地利用总体规划和发展上发挥切实有效的和更大的作用, 他们建议:
•居民社区规划职位以及其他相关机构的职位应由UNA 委任,委任人应定期向UNA 汇报工作进展情况

理查德· 亚历山大(Richard Alexander)

查尔斯·孟席斯(Charles Menzies)
我是一个社区民主的积极倡议者和支持者。作为大学校园居民社区学校行动委员会的前主席,我积极有效地提倡和促进了我们社区内学校和社区配套设施的发展。现在我们的社区发展正处在一个关键的十字路口 新建议的高密度建筑楼群将严重威胁我们的社区宜居性。为确保我们的社区的健康发展,现在是我们一起采取有效的行动的时候了”。

武绍宏(Shaohong Wu)
作为校区居民,我和你们一样关注我们的社区发展,环境和生活质量。当选后,我承诺将致力于把UNA发展成为一个代表我们居民的自主管理机构。我的工程专业背景,专业的项目管理经验,多元文化群体背景下发展和培养的领导技能将使我有效地完成使命。 我承诺将致力于发展适合我们居住的社区和具有居民广泛参与的社区民主”。

OUR Candidates’ Platform—Land Use Planning and Development

As part of their platform, OUR candidates—Richard Alexander, Charles Menzies and Shaohong Wu—commit to seeking a greater role for residents in land use planning and development for the neighbourhoods.
The candidates have adopted the following positions:
·       Residents should have an integral role in the formulation and amendment of land use and neighbourhood plans, and in the approval of individual development proposals.
·       The UNA should take the lead in bringing about this increased resident involvement.
·       Resident positions on planning and other bodies should be filled by UNA appointees, who should report regularly to the UNA.

Our Candidates

Richard Alexander

"I believe in community involvement. We have new residents, many new to Canada, who can and should participate in our community and make it a better place to live. While on the UNA, I will reach out to strata councils, faculty, staff and students who live in the area to become engaged in their community through UNA committees and sponsored activities. I am running for UNA Board to represent the rapidly developing South Campus area and to encourage owners and residents to become engaged with their community." 

Charles Menzies

“I’m a strong supporter of community-based democracy. As the former chair of the Schools Action Committee of the University Neighbourhoods Association at UBC I have advocated on behalf of our community for appropriate school and community facilities. We are at a crossroads where increased development is putting the livability of our community at risk. Now is the time to act prudently and considerately to ensure that our community stays livable.”  

Shaohong Wu

"As a resident of U-Town, I share my neighbors concerns about our environment and quality of life. I am committed to UNA's vision of a democratic self-governing community. I am confident that my engineering background, professional management expertise, leadership skills, and my in depth understanding of and extensive experience in collaborating with people from multiple cultural backgrounds will enable me to contribute to the fulfillment of UNA's vision and help make our U-Town a more democratic and livable place."