Gage South Planning Goes Underground

In May, UBC Insiders reported on the ongoing planning process for the Gage South area. The article was a summary of a meeting held by the Gage South and Environs Working Group. The article was one of the most basic I’ve ever written: I attended the meeting, took notes, then wrote about what happened. At the time, no one expressed concern with my presence at the meeting, or with my subsequent reporting.

Last Thursday, the Gage South Working Group held another meeting, their first since May. I planned to attend and report, exactly as I had in May, but was asked to leave before the meeting began by Lisa Colby, chair of the Working Group. The reason given was that the committee had not yet decided whether it wanted media or observers present, and in fact, it was on the agenda.

Not sure why Wesbrook Place was on the agenda.

During that discussion, the committee decided to exclude all members of the public from future meetings. The official media response from C&CP outlines similar themes to what I was told after follow-up inquiries with Lisa Colby. Working Group members won’t be as willing to speak frankly in the presence of media because they’re worried about being quoted saying something silly. They have said they’ll make committee materials public but it’s unclear at this point what exactly that will include. And if they’re so committed to transparency, why haven’t they been doing that since the beginning?

Since I can’t really report on myself objectively I’ll leave it at this: committees do have a legitimate need for in camera sessions for various reasons. However, making the entirety of committee meetings secret is highly unusual and unnecessary.


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  1. Dear Neal,

    It’s a shame that UBC Admin has taken this path forward. True democracy requires free and open discussion – closed door discussions is anything but democratic. The old south campus working group, that I was a part of, had (as far as I am aware) no such restrictions on media or public sharing. In fact there was much sharing through all kinds of email lists, blogs, news sources, and more.

    The old ‘they might say something foolish’ line just doesn’t hold up – or at least it shouldn’t. Besides, the people placed on that working group are, in some sense likely representing or coming from particular groups and thus are already engaged with a limited public.

    Keep up your good work. Perhaps some of the members of the working group will start to make public their thoughts and comments as they recognize their place in a cultivation of real democratic practice.

    Posted by Charles Menzies | August 29, 2011, 8:59 pm
  2. Apparently allowing any kind of media scrutiny is the same thing as “crowdsourcing.” Er, what?!/ubc_candcp/statuses/108418259606446081

    Posted by Laura Rodgers | August 30, 2011, 12:52 am
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