The British Columbia government has recently approved the amendments to the UBC Land Use Plan that were submitted by the Board of Governors. The plan calls, among other things, for a densification of the university land, in order to address campus residential needs, generate revenues for the UBC endowment, as well as create a vibrant and sustainable year-round university community to support shops, services and transit.
In my personal opinion, the challenge is to try to do all of this without jeopardizing UBC’s future control of its land base, infringing on the academic zone, altering the university character of the UTown, weakening the university’s governance structure of its campus, or creating a reverse traffic flow out of UBC.
I have accepted to chair the “Community Planning Task Group” of the UBC Board of Governors, which will be leading the process of developing a Housing Action Plan for the Vancouver campus. The plan will be guiding the university’s future actions on this front.
One of the main objectives of the Housing Action Plan is to improve housing choices and affordability for faculty, staff and students on the Vancouver campus. This is an objective that I personally feel strongly about, because I believe that it is of the utmost importance for the alignment of future campus housing plans with the academic mission of UBC. For that, we need to develop a plan that will incentivize faculty, staff and students to live on campus. Why?
1. The UBC campus is relatively isolated from other residential areas in Vancouver, and every year thousands of our students end up on long waiting lists trying to get into the few currently available residences. More of them need to be accommodated on campus, and concrete plans are currently in the works to do just that.
2. The high cost of real estate in the Vancouver housing market is probably the most significant obstacle to UBC’s aspiration to be a leading research university. There is no doubt that this factor is preventing us from recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty and senior staff. This challenge can be addressed by an action plan that would improve housing choices and affordability for faculty and staff.
3. We need to minimize the traffic flow in and out of the UBC area, by making sure that a large number of people working at the university have both the possibility and the incentive to reside on UBC land.
4. One way to protect the integrity of the academic zones, as well as the future of the university governance of its land, is to maximize the number of those affiliated with the university, among campus residents. Another way is to ensure that individuals moving to UBC understand that they will be moving to a university community and all that entails.
5. Last but not least, I personally believe that working towards these objectives is crucial for sustaining and preserving the unique character of the UBC Town as a university community.
To jump-start the process of developing this housing plan, the community planning task group invites all members of the UBC community to a public forum.
Date: Monday, April 4, 2011
Time: 12:00 noon – 2:00 PM
Place: GSS Ballroom, Thea Koerner House, 6371 Crescent Road
Refreshments will be available
The forum will explore the challenges and opportunities faced by UBC in creating affordable housing options on campus for its community, and will provide an opportunity for feedback to the Task Group.
Needless to say, we would like maximal community input into some key issues before we begin the development of the plan. We want to hear directly from the various UBC stakeholders about their needs, their aspirations, and their thoughts on models to explore, in trying to create a vibrant and affordable UBC community.
The process is complex and the parameters to consider are numerous. We have therefore invited the following expert panelists to tell us how similar challenges were addressed elsewhere, and to present various survey results that are more pertinent to UBC”.
- Craig Crawford, Vice President, Development Services, BC Housing will discuss the regional context for affordable housing development and present the innovative work BC Housing is doing with municipal governments to develop affordable housing.
- Dr. Penny Gurstein, Professor and Director, School of Community & Regional Planning/ Centre for Human Settlements, UBC will discuss her research on models for affordable housing development.
- Andrew Parr, Managing Director, Student Housing & Hospitality Services, UBC will present Student Housing Survey results and the challenges and opportunities for affordable student housing development on campus.
- Lisa Colby, Associate Director, Planning Policy UBC, will present the Staff/Faculty Housing Survey results.
Panelists will present for 60 minutes followed by 60 minutes for comments and questions from the audience — 30 minutes on student housing issues and 30 minutes on faculty/staff housing issues.
Please RSVP to Stefani.firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday, March 30, 2011.
For more information, visit http://www.planning.ubc.ca/housingaction