Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Exploring the Academic Core of UBC

There are a lot of things to do on a university campus that don’t cost money to do them.  Universities are centers of knowledge production and exchange. Living as we do, right along side of one of the most amazing universities in North American, it just seems like a good idea to see what is out there.  Most readers will know about the regular things, the Museum of Anthropology, the Belkin Art Gallery, the Beaty Biodiverstiy Centre, or all of the various recreational opportunities. What about all the many special talks, performances, film screenings, seminars, and lectures that cost nothing to attend?  Starting with this issue of the Campus Resident we’ll provide an irregular heads up on some intriguing informative events that are open to the public, free to attend, and well worth our while to check out. Here are five upcoming events in March and April that reflect the diversity of some of the best UBC has to offer.
UBC Archaeology Day. All Day, March 21. AnSo Building (6303 NW Marine Drive). This year’s event highlights the ongoing problem of obliteration, destruction, and looting of global heritage sites.  Case studies range from the worn torn regions of the middle east (were insurgents recently sacked a museum in Mosul) to areas undergoing industrial redevelopment on British Columbia’s north coast.  UBC Archaeology Day 2015 is open to anyone with an interest in, and concern for, the protection of our endangered cultural heritage, archaeological resources, and indigenous culture here in British Columbia as well as across the world. Further information can be found c/o UBCDepartment of Anthropology.
Eco-Poethics and Community Engagement. 3pm-5pm, March 23. First Nations Longhouse (1985 West Mall). This event has a playful structure of performance and sharing that is highly interactive.  It draws from the Faculty of Education’s strategic emphasis of community engagement.  Participants will be able to select from three sharing tables: local and global; equivalency of epistemologies and methodologies, and; social and eco-justice. If you attend this event plan to be involved! Participants will join “in collaborative performances and companion-planting of ideas” (don’t ask, I’m not really sure what that means).
Eighth Annual International Festival of Anthropology Film. 10am - 5pm, Sunday, APRIL 12. [NOTE: revised date] AnSo Building (6303 NW Marine Drive).  This small local festival screens a thematically linked series of outstanding international and rare films. This year’s theme is work and solidarity.  Films from Asia, Europe, and the Americas explore bizarre, intriguing, and even perplexing forms of work.  Each film is carefully selected from a pool of new films to showcase the best the world of global anthropology has to offer.  More info can be found @ anthfilm
What Canada Needs to Know About China, a book launch. 4pm-5:30pm, March 31. CK Choi Building. (1855 West Mall).  China’s rise is having a direct impact on our prosperity, our health and well-being, and our security here in Canada. We need to start paying closer attention, says David Mulroney, author of the new book Middle Power, Middle Kingdom. China has become our second largest economic partner, not as important as the US is, but far bigger than all the rest.  The author served as Canada’s ambassador to China from 2009 to 2012.  RSVP:
It’s About Time: Reflections on a Career in Geography. 3:30pm-5:00pm, April 9.  Rm 229, Geography Building.  (1984 West Mall).  Featuring Professor Graeme Wynn, this talk “offers a series of reflections, near the end of [Prof Wynn’s] (remunerated) UBC career, on almost forty years in this institution.”  Professor Wynn is one of the foremost practitioners of historical geography.  His talk promises an exciting examination of fate and chance in the shaping of academic production among other things. This is the sort of academic talk that is always worth the effort to attend as one doesn’t quite know what to expect!
All of these five events provide a slice of the ongoing world of the academe that lies inside the institutional core of UBC.  From the vantage point of the University Neighbourhods we often only see the PR face of UBC, or the problems, or the marketing.  Take up the challenge to engage in the core mission of the university, the site of knowledge production and exchange.  Enter into the world of the lecture and the seminar.  You might be surprised at what you find!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Guest Post on Transit Vote. By Thomas Beyer, UNA Resident (former UNA Director)

To get people out of their cars we need more RAPID transit. The new plan fails on that front. The newly proposed plan is merely a band-aid. The currently proposed transit plan is far too bus based and car use will remain far too cheap for any significant changes to happen in MetroVan.

For example: With the viaducts soon gone, we need a subway along Hastings, to Burnaby, then looping to N-Van over Second Narrows bridge along Marine Drive all the way past Lonsdale to W-Van's Ambleside. The proposed Broadway line ends far too soon at Arbutus, especially with the federal & native land being developed on Jericho barracks. It has to go to Alma at the very least, then cheaper above ground all the way to UBC. 41st needs a subway, possibly extending to UBC to make it a full loop eventually. Langley need a train to connect to Surrey. Lionsgate bridge needs widening with a ped path and rail link on it to complete the North Shore subway loop into downtown. Then, and only then, will N-Van and W-Van folks switch from cars, especially if each car crossing will cost $10 in rush-hour or $5 outside of rush hour. This vision is nowhere in the band-aid plan.

Highrises get built and levies collected to fund overpaid civil servants in the planning departments or elsewhere in the vast city bureaucracies but far too little infrastructure is developed. The cities then have their hand out to the province lamenting: we need more roads and especially transit – look at all these people coming.MetroVan councils have increased spending over 50% the last decade, well above inflation plus immigration due to excessive unionization and lack of outsourcing or other cost control measures.

This is a major issue, and at the core of the city-province dispute over funding, not just for transit but also education (loads of ESL requirements – see teachers strike), healthcare (not enough funding for nurses & doctors to be hired), homelessness (rents are too high as immigrants with money crowd out folks that live here on low wages) or crowded community centers.

Let's look at in-migration, the main cause of this congestion: What is the rational behavior of a rich or even merely affluent immigrant ? Buy a huge mansion or condo with the best views in town, as capital gains are not taxed and property taxes are so low, and shift income to abroad ie from his foreign owned corporation, or just have the wife and the kids here and husband works abroad, i.e. very little PST and almost no income taxes are paid in BC ! Plus buy a fat car as gasoline taxes are quite low and roads are not tolled. That is rational behavior, we see by the ten’s of thousands per year in BC, primarily Vancouver & Richmond but also elsewhere to a somewhat lesser degree. The new transit plan does not change this rational behavior one iota. As such: we need a better plan on the expense reduction, the funding and the spending side !

The tax system needs some major re-jigging in BC: far higher road use fees (at choke points say bridges, tunnels, major intersections), far higher land transfer taxes, say 1% per $1M to 15% (like UK or Hongkong), far higher property taxes (up 100%, say over 10 years), coupled with a credit for BC income tax payers, plus far higher parking fees on every residential road, plus perhaps a luxury tax for vehicles over $50,000, plus gasoline taxes that are 100% higher.

A mere 0.5% PST increase is a drop in the bucket and will not systemically change things in MetoVan .. with more (slow) buses as it will not shift the rational behavior.
Which politician has the guts to be honest with citizens, then tackle that on the city or provincial level?

I am happy to pay 10% PST or any of the above taxes or fees if I get something of value. I do not today, and neither do 600,000+ other car users who will thus oppose this band-aid "decongestion" plan as it will not achieve what it is intended to do, namely shift car users to transit. Only far more RAPID transit coupled with higher car use costs will achieve that.

I urge both MetroVan mayors and provincial political leaders to come to their senses as opposed to snow ball their voters with more lies and band-aids ! Soon 3.5M people deserve a world class RAPID transit not mere band-aids !

Yours Sincerely,

Thomas Beyer