Proposed Provincial Legislation Announced (Bill 20)

On April 29th, the Government of B.C. introduced legislation that will positively impact UBC’s Vancouver campus.

May 13, 2010

President’s Statement on UBC Farm and Bill 20

To respond directly to those who have raised concerns that legislation moving land use control from the Metro Vancouver regional government to the Province will imperil the UBC Farm, I must be crystal clear that the opposite is in fact the case.

Having active farmland on the campus offers our region a globally unique opportunity to blend urban living with agricultural production.

In December, the university’s Board of Governor’s enthusiastically received an academic plan, Cultivating Place, for protecting and enhancing the farm as a centerpiece of the South campus. Further, the farm is a vital part of the new UBC Sustainability Initiative, and a highly visible aspect of our campus as a living laboratory for sustainability.

Zoning restrictions proposed by Metro in October 2009 would have made innovative funding, research, and campus planning impossible for the farm, as well as other areas of campus. What the provincial legislation, Bill 20, ensures is that the university’s commitment to UBC Farm, as articulated by the Board of Governors in November 2008, will be honoured.

Stephen J. Toope
President and Vice-Chancellor

April 29, 2010

Proposed Provincial Legislation Announced

On April 29th, the Government of B.C. introduced legislation that will positively impact UBC’s Vancouver campus.

Bill 20 will transfer the responsibility for approving a land use plan for the bulk of UBC’s Vancouver campus lands from the Metro Vancouver regional government (GVRD) to the Minister of Community and Rural Development, who will consult with the Minister of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development.

This transfer ensures that lands set aside early in the 20th century to support BC’s first, and now largest, university will continue to advance UBC’s 21st-century academic mission.

The legislation responds to a joint request from Metro Vancouver and UBC that the provincial government propose a new land use planning regime.

Just to be clear, this legislation affects only those lands owned by UBC that are located in Metro Vancouver’s Electoral A. This comprises the bulk of UBC’s Vancouver campus but does not include UBC’s Okanagan campus, UBC sites at Robson Square or Great Northern Way, nor does it include, the University Endowment Lands, the University Golf Course or Pacific Spirit Park.

The proposed legislation will accelerate the university’s ambitious sustainability goals. We’ve already set aggressive greenhouse gas targets to reduce emissions to zero by the year 2050. We’re constructing North America’s most sustainable building, the Centre for Interactive Research in Sustainability. We’re piloting the use of wood waste biomass for heat and electrical power generation. UBC Farm is a leading-edge source of urban agriculture knowledge.

We’re increasing the opportunities for people who work and study on campus to live here as well, which, combined with greater transit use, is reducing our carbon footprint at the same time we are building an environmentally friendly community.

These initiatives are part of a larger vision of UBC as a living laboratory for sustainability, and the legislation signifies the Province’s and UBC’s belief that, with the appropriate land use mechanisms, UBC can do much more. And we will. We’re already set to pioneer new smart-grid energy programs, we can now move to protect the UBC Farm, and we have an unprecedented opportunity to address affordable housing issues.

I look forward to working with government and with our students, faculty, staff and residents in considering whether further changes are needed to carry out the civic functions of governance, planning and service delivery for UBC’s Vancouver campus.

I hope you’ll join me in this exciting next step in UBC’s evolution.

For more information, and a link to the legislation, see the UBC Public Affairs website.

Stephen J. Toope
President and Vice-Chancellor