C+CP discards 10,000+ students from campus population counts

A quick update on some Campus and Community Planning (C+CP) skullduggery, only because it should be recorded somewhere and the Ubyssey is apparently too busy ambulance-chasing to cover it. Last month, UBC embarked on a process to update their Regional Context Statement (RCS). Essentially the RCS is a link between UBC’s Land Use Plan (LUP), which determines broadly how the development of campus will occur, and Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy (RGS), which determines broadly how the development of the entire lower mainland will occur. Put another way, the LUP and the RGS are trying to do the same thing to the same area – urban planning – but on different scales. The RCS is an attempt to link those to plans, to ensure they are at least somewhat consistent with each other.

In 2010, UBC updated their LUP, and as part of that process, also updated their RCS. In their proposed RCS, UBC initially made projections of future population that did not include any students living in residence. In response, a Metro Vancouver report asked them to include students in their counts, among many other things. Ultimately, the compromise reached was that the 2021 projected population figure was stated as “Approximately 22,500 residents, including 10,000 residents in student accommodation on academic lands.” Metro Van gets a realistic estimate of the actual number of bodies on campus, while UBC still gets to distinguish students as somehow different.

Now, UBC is trying to revise their RCS from 3 years ago. Once again, they’ve excluded students from population counts. Their proposed wording for 2021 is now “Approximately 12,500 residents in Neighbourhood Housing Areas.” This, of course, conveniently ignores those 10,000 students living on campus that are currently being counted. C+CP’s 2031 and 2041 population projections also don’t include students.

The numbers for people living in student residences break down like this: 6,000 residents on 8-month leases (Sept-Apr) coinciding with the school year. 4,000 residents are on 12-month leases. In addition, phase 1 of Ponderosa Commons (~600 beds) is slated to open September 2013; those people will be on 12-month leases. Ponderosa phase 2 (~500 beds) is “shovel ready”. All told, within 2-3 years, there will be 5,000 students living in 12-month housing on campus. Thousands more could be added as other residence hubs are built in the future.

Even if there was a solid rationale for not counting the 6,000 residents on 8-month terms, there’s no credible way to discount the 5,000+ year-round student residents from being counted. These people make their home on campus all year round just like anyone living in a campus condo. They need the same services, the same infrastructure, the same amenities. Deliberately underestimating population numbers by 20-40% is one of the more irresponsible and dishonest things C+CP has tried to do. Doubly irresponsible, and infinitely more dishonest, given that they tried to do the exact same thing just three years ago and were told unequivocally to change their ways.


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