The Campaign for an Academic Gage South

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.

Sign the petition here.

Today, we are announcing the launch of a petition about Gage South. The first part asks the university to designate the area as “Academic”, as defined in the Land Use Plan. The second says that this should not be conditional upon transferring any market housing to other parts of campus.

We believe the “Academic” designation for Gage South is sensible and puts the academic mission of the university first. It’s a university – core land should be recognized as such and we would rather not see UBC’s land grant squandered in unfortunate ways.

We believe that reserving UBC’s campus land for academic purposes does not require building private market housing.

We believe putting non-student housing in Gage South will cause significant problems in the future, as the atmosphere of an active student community is often at odds with the needs of a non-student residential community.

We believe Campus and Community Planning, by not being inclusive of members of the public, is failing the very communities it is supposed to help build.

Which is why we decided to do it instead. With this petition, we’re going out to talk to students and members of the community at large about Gage South, thousands of them. No concerts at the Knoll, no bonfires, and no arrests. We’ve set up a website at www.gagesouth.ca outlining our case in greater detail. If our belief that university lands should be used for academic purposes is misguided, we’d like the university to make a case for why “Academic” is not appropriate for Gage South.

If you believe that the land UBC describes as the “heart of campus” should put students first, please sign the petition.

If you believe that retaining academic land is more important than retaining market housing, please sign the petition.

If you believe that a community of non-student residents has different needs and priorities than an active student community, please sign the petition.

If you believe Campus and Community Planning should be open, transparent and inclusive of the communities it plans, please sign the petition.

Why “Academic”?

Gage South is surrounded by public, student-centric amenities: MacInnes Field, the SUB, Aquatic Centre, Student Recreation Centre, War Memorial Gym and the to-be-relocated diesel bus loop. All of these areas are considered academic and are part of the area that UBC considers the “heart of campus”. Non-student housing is neither public nor student-centric and therefore does not fit in with the character of the surrounding area. Placing private residences in very close proximity to academic land is how controversies like the St. John Hospice take root. Locating the fraternity houses between market housing and the RCMP detachment has resulted in problems for all groups. Why not learn from history, rather than repeat it?

If the area is designated as “Academic”, UBC still has the freedom to build anything it wants that is related to students, faculty, or the actual conduct of the University. The designation allows not only for teaching and research buildings, but also for a broad palette of student-centric amenities such as student residences, transit facilities, green spaces and student social spaces.  The only thing UBC would not allowed to build are expensive private housing developments.

Why a Petition?

Students have tried to work in good faith with UBC in resolving the designation of Gage South. UBC has steadfastly avoided discussing it voluntarily. At his town hall last year, President Toope promised “an open discussion on the Gage South neighbourhood.” This has not yet occurred.

After this promise was made, UBC underwent a process to revise its Land Use Plan, which determines where market housing can be built on campus. Gage South was not discussed until it was brought up repeatedly by students. In UBC’s own words, “The most frequent comment at the public hearing was by students calling for Gage South to be designated academic. Students raised concerns related to the compatibility of non-student housing with student life in this area of campus.” In response to this feedback, UBC made only a minor, one-word change to the Land Use Plan.

Since February 2011, a Gage South working group has been meeting to discuss the area. Of 15 members, only two are students. The Working Group recently barred media and members of the public from attending their meetings. Because UBC has no accountability to students when it comes to building housing, public pressure in the form of a petition is the best option at present.


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  1. Question: Can non-UBC students sign the petition if they support this campaign?

    Posted by Dan P. | September 18, 2011, 1:45 am
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