Coming to the Board of Governors in early June is a new set of Parking Rules for UBC. According to the document, the reasons they are looking to enact new rules are:

(a) revise UBC’s traffic and parking regime so that it interlocks with the new legislative framework;
(b) update and streamline the existing traffic and parking rules, which have been overtaken in many instances by changing technology, management practices and by the evolving character of the Point Grey campus;
(c) establish a uniform traffic and parking system for UBC and UBC Okanagan; and
(d) add flexibility in order to meet future changes

Someone who regularly drives to and parks a car on campus might now be interested to hear what changes are in store for them. In response, UBC would like you to stop paying attention, because this process is not a big deal and should be entirely uncontroversial because it’s simply formalizing current practice.

It is unlikely that the users of parking services at either UBC Okanagan or UBC Vancouver will even realize that the Proposed Rules have been adopted unless they take the time to read and compare them with the existing rules.

In fairness, that’s largely accurate: the new parking regulations are indeed mostly a restatement, in better legalese, of UBC Parking’s current parking regulations.

That’s the problem.

The basis for re-enacting the current policy appears to be a logical fallacy that goes something like: current practice is best practice, because it is current practice. [Or in broader terms, UBC knows best, because it is UBC.]

The class action lawsuit UBC faced over the legality of their parking practices might suggest otherwise, and the university would be well-advised to give a little more consideration to where they might be if the province had not stepped in with retroactive legislation designed to legitimize the parking rules.

Some things that could warrant further reflection include:

* If you pay the posted rate for parking, but the posted rate is incorrect, you are considered to be in the wrong for paying the incorrect amount. [Sec. 11]

* Questionable wording in which a Traffic Notice is issued for “an alleged contravention of the Rules,” but then goes on to state that in regards to the Traffic Notice “the endorsement by the Compliance Officer [… is] proof of the facts stated therein.” My non-lawyer interpretation is that the issuance of a Traffic Notice both alleges and simultaneously proves the infraction happened. [Sec. 20]

* Immobilizing and/or towing cars, even if they are legally parked at the time, for having 3 or more outstanding tickets [Sec 21. (b)]

* Withholding academic services to students as a result of outstanding parking fees. [Policy 67]

* When a parking ticket is appealed, the “Hearing Officer” who is tasked with resolving disputes is an employee of UBC Parking.

The last bullet is particularly unfortunate, as it undermines the legitimacy of the entire set of regulations. Despite best efforts to downplay this by including a clause stating the hearing officer “must faithfully, honestly and impartially perform his or her duties,” having such a person employed by, and reporting to, one of the sides in the dispute is an inarguable Conflict of Interest. By making the rules, enforcing the rules, and deciding on the rules, UBC gets to play judge, jury and tow truck driver.

This is a perfect example of why a lot of people are worried, legitimately, about the new governance regime coming about as a result of the Metro Van divorce. The checks and balances supposedly in UBC’s system are set up in such a way as to be bureaucratic, rather than objective. If the Board doesn’t send these rules back for more careful reflection on this front, it will represent a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.


Comments

4 Comments so far

  1. Neal Yonson on May 24, 2010 2:02 pm

    Fun fact: Board Members don’t need to worry about any of this because they get free parking.

    “Since September 1st, 1983, new members of the Board have been granted parking permits without charge, for personal use only, during tenure of office, upon application.”

  2. Alex Lougheed on May 24, 2010 5:43 pm

    I really don’t care about parking, but this instance seems to strike at the ‘best-of-both-worlds’ approach UBC is being granted in increasingly more instances.

    UBC is a private entity, not subject to the charter or FOI requests, when it’s convenient for UBC. UBC is a public governing body, subject to receiving millions of tax dollars and regulatory powers, when it’s convenient for UBC.

    Here’s hoping that governance review, as promised, comes quick, and that the new rules are based on what’s best for society, instead of just UBC.

  3. Brent on May 25, 2010 6:43 pm

    where can i find the ams agenda for tomorrow?

  4. Neal Yonson on May 25, 2010 10:30 pm

    It’s uploaded here: http://blogs.ubc.ca/yonny/files/2010/05/Agenda-May-26-2010.pdf

    I tried emailing it to you, but the email you left is not real?

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