Sunday, October 12, 2014

Proposal for Public Review of UNA Elections and Elections Policies

The following document and proposal is being presented to the UNA Board Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014.  This is a following up to my proposal that failed to be approved previously.  The older proposal was specifically focussed on the UNA balloting procedures.  This proposal is for a more general review of UNA elections and is designed to build upon community input and consultation. This item can be found under item D.2 of the Oct. 16th UNA Board of Directors agenda.

The UNA is a society under the Societies Act of BC. The UNA also, via the Neighbours’ Agreement, manages some of the services (as delegated by UBC) that a municipality might also deliver. Residents have an expectation that the UNA manage it’s affairs in as open and democratic a fashion as possible. Since being create by UBC in 2002 the UNA has slowly grown in membership as the overall residential population of the University Neighbourhoods have developed. Prior to 2002 Hampton Place was governed by a joint UBC Properties Trust – Council of Strata Chairs process that seemed to meet their needs. Hampton Place, at full build out, had just over 1000 units of housing. In 2001 the first residential units in Hawthorn Place were occupied. These buildings were all, initially, faculty staff rental buildings, and the Hampton Place governance model was inadequate and unable to accommodate the needs and interests of the new members of what came to be the UNA Area. As a consequence a democratic residents association was created, the Hawthorn Lane Residents Association, to advocate on behalf and to represent the interests of Hawthorn Place residents. The university eventually responded by setting up a majority appointed University Neighbourhoods’ Association, registered under the Societies Act of BC, to deal with the emerging concerns and governance issues of the non-institutional residential areas.

Over time the UNA has slowly added elected resident directors (as per a formula tied to number of residential units built). The early elections were small, involved few voters, and took place primarily at the Annual General Meeting. As the UNA governed area has increased to include Chancellor Place, Westbrook Place, and East Campus Neighbourhood, the number of potential and actual ballots cast has increased. Over this same period of time the voting process has developed into one in which ballots are mailed to registered UNA members, candidates are provided with a membership list of UNA members, candidates’ are allowed to reproduce ballots, candidates (or others) can solicit and hand in completed ballots, balloting is then closed at the start of the AGM which has now become regularly scheduled for the month of September (in the past the AGM was held during the late spring/early summer).

The current model of voting used by the UNA is consistent with that of a society or public enterprise but not with local area governments in BC. During the course of the past election for resident directors a series of community concerns have been raised. These concerns highlight practices that could undermine the legitimacy of the UNA electoral process and thereby undermine the UNA’s capacity to effectively conduct its business and to effectively represent UNA area residents. Concerns include: the standard practice of candidates reproducing their own copies of the ballots, direct solicitation of potential voters, simultaneously signing residents up as UNA members and soliciting their vote, and collecting discarded mail in ballots (found in AGM packages) and allegedly submitting them without the knowledge of the addressee. These are serious concerns. The UNA has an obligation to ensure that whatever electoral process is used it is one that is beyond reproach.

Proposed Motion
Moved by , that the UNA Board of Directors delegates the Chair of the Governance Committee to set in place an ad hoc public review of UNA Elections and Election Policies; that this review will consist of a panel of responsible individuals with experience in the study and development of democratic governance models, elections, and election procedures; that this panel of responsible individuals will take public input and comment in relation to improving the UNA Elections and Elections Policies; that notice of this review shall be placed in the October Edition of the Campus Resident, on the UNA web page and social media sites, and distributed via the UNA email notice system; that the panel of responsible individuals will consider written submissions and oral comments at at least one public forum, and; that this panel of responsible individuals shall report to the Governance Standing Committee with recommendations by November 25, 2014.

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