Dear President Toope

Today, President Toope held a town hall meeting, which ended with a Q&A session from the audience. I was next in line at the mic when the MC Peter Klein ended the town hall. Prior to that, a law student planted in the audience by Bijan Ahmadian had lobbed Toope a softball question about Gage South which allowed him to go over the university’s talking points on the subject. I submitted my question online instead, and it reads like this:

At last year’s Town Hall, I asked President Toope about why Gage South was not being discussed by the university or Campus and Community Planning despite numerous calls for its inclusion as a topic in the Land Use Plan revision process. The response began: “The short answer is that there will be an open discussion about the Gage South neighbourhood, so rest assured that it will be part of the overall discussion.”

At the time, I had faith that this would indeed become a reality, that the university would come to the table to have serious, in depth discussions with community members about Gage South. One year later, this has not occurred.

During the Land Use Plan revision process, Gage South was consistently brought up by many students as a topic of interest. At first, it was first completely left off of the agenda, and then later declared to be an issue to be discussed at another time through its designation as an “area under review”. Despite this, a C&CP submission to the UBC Board of Governors still noted that “The most frequent comment at the public hearing was by students calling for Gage South to be designated academic.”

Rather than an open discussion about Gage South arising, the opposite has happened. A working group is in fact discussing it but has barred media and the public from attending their meetings. The faith I had in the process one year ago has been entirely eroded over this time. I did not realize that an “open discussion” was separable into “open” parts where there would be no discussion and “discussion” parts that would not be “open”. As a result, I have launched a petition to have Gage South designated as “Academic” land. It reads:

We, the undersigned, support the following:

That Gage South, currently occupied by the UBC Bus Loop, have its land use designation changed from “Area Under Review” to “Academic”, which “identifies those parts of campus to be used for teaching, research, and other uses needed to support the academic mission of the university and academic life.”

That designating Gage South as “Academic” should not include any transfer of planned market housing to other parts of campus.”

In just over a week, over 2000 people at UBC have expressed their support for these ideas by signing the petition. Would you also like to sign the petition?

If not, how can students be certain that “Academic” designation for Gage South will presented as a legitimate option in any future considerations for the area, not just to the public, but to the Board of Governors as well?


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  1. UBC’s refusal to listen to students on the Gage South issue is indicative of their attitude toward listening to the voice of students (and the community) in general. You are all aware of the plethora of examples from even the last couple of years. It is reasons such as this that I just don’t understand why folks in the AMS continue to view the UBC administration and governors as partners. Their policies are just as much, if not more, of an obstacle than the government’s policies to a student centered campus.

    Posted by Blake | September 19, 2011, 6:13 pm
  2. keep fighting the good fight!

    Posted by JWF | September 19, 2011, 9:26 pm
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