UBC Responds to Metro Vancouver move to control UBC campus

The University of British Columbia has asked Metro Vancouver to withdraw a proposal to restrict and regulate the use of academic land on the UBC Vancouver campus.

“Metro Vancouver’s unprecedented proposal threatens UBC’s status as one of the world’s best research universities,” said UBC President Prof. Stephen J. Toope. “Universities are, fundamentally, places of discovery where the freedom to learn must be paramount and protected.

“This freedom has enabled us to nurture talent and develop ideas that benefit all British Columbians through, for example, progress on cancer and diabetes treatments, the development of clean-energy technologies that use pine-beetle infested wood and, importantly, the creation of 130 spin-off companies, raising more than $2 billion in cumulative investments in BC,” Toope said.

UBC generates combined economic benefits of more than $10 billion a year.

Stephen Owen, UBC Vice President, External, Legal and Community Relations, said the university was surprised last month when Metro Vancouver introduced a wide-ranging and intrusive document called Additional Land Use Development Provisions pertaining to UBC’s academic lands. The provisions include nine new planning zones and numerous additional regulations on land that has been set aside for academic purposes for more than 100 years.

“We already have an agreement that allows Metro Vancouver planning control over family housing, with UBC creating processes equivalent to or better than the best sustainability and planning practices of municipalities throughout BC,” said Owen. “If Metro Vancouver’s proposals were imposed, they would not only damage UBC’s academic mission, they would in many cases impede the sustainability leadership that UBC has provided.”

Mike Feeley, Chair of the University Neighbourhoods Association, also opposed the proposed bylaw. “Metro Vancouver did not include UBC residents in this process, which is not aligned with residents’ interests. UBC needs to retain control of its academic land and not be subject to onerous and unnecessary zoning processes.”

The University Neighbourhoods Association democratically represents and provides municipal services to family housing residents on UBC’s campus.