Well, results from the September U-Square consultation have been compiled, but not yet published. I thought they were pretty interesting, so here they are, in handy graphical format. Click the graph images to enlarge them. Thanks to Margaret Orlowsky for sending me the results.

If you filled out the forms, you’ll recall that the 1-5 ranking represents a range from 1 (“would not meet vision”) to 5 (“would meet vision”).

This graph (above) has the results from the first part of the survey form, which asked about individual prospective elements for the U-Square space. I didn’t include all of them, but the main ones are there. As you can see, housing and store retail are the most unpopular, with most people ranking then at 1. Food retail fares better with a more even distribution. Surprisingly, neither the Boardroom (intended for conferences, BoG and Senate meetings) or Alumni Centre were especially popular – I like both these elements quite well. The grassy knoll and open space elements are the most popular. “Grassy Knoll substitute” (some sort of structured green space) was fairly was popular. The only buildings with an upwards trend in the whole questionnaire are a SUB expansion and student social space, and more moderately, the vague “community hall” (which nobody seems to be able to define). All the others, including the university’s development office, and continuing studies do poorly.

This graph shows the results for the four combinations of elements that were suggested on the feedback forms. Combo 1 (with housing and retail as well as service stores) is essentially what the plan for U-square was before May, when the student petition and AMS policy opposing the plan convinced the BoG to redesign. So it’s not surprising that it’s the least well-received. Combo 4 was put on the form due to the efforts of the student representatives on the U-square planning committee, and contains less built space than the others.

To me, these results show that a combination with minimal building, mostly open space, a knoll, and some public social space would be the most welcome option. I think an alumni/welcome centre and boardroom in the centre of campus, would be great too, but most of the respondents seem to disagree. Looking at the results from the individual elements, it looks like none of the combos integrate the most popular items. The important thing to remember is that we can’t really have it all. If we want a SUB expansion, that’s less open space and less green space. It’s important to keep in mind that only about 300 people answered the forms – not a great sample. It’s possible that the results are skewed towards the organized “save the knoll” faction.

About the committee process: This feedback form and the responsiblity for dealing with the results resides with the U-Boulevard planning committee, which includes 3 student reps: Brendon Goodmurphy from the AMS, Matt Filipiak from the GSS, and Margaret Orlowsky, at-large. This committee was touted by the President as the harbinger of a new era of working together with students on development issues. It seems that according to Matt and Margaret, the process hasn’t been exactly what they expected – the students on the committee are giving input and coming up with ideas, but the actual decisions are made by Nancy Knight, and Joe Stott, the two university representatives. Like all committee structures, the people who do the actual work (ie. the writing) have the real power: in this case, these are people that work in Nancy and Joe’s offices. Now we’re hearing that Nancy and Joe are unhappy with the results I’ve just outlined. Since they’re the ones that give instructions to the architects, and there’s no binding vote on the options, we may have reason to worry, despite the presence of student representation. To quote Margaret “they keep asking what meaningful consultation is – it’s asking what people they want you to do, and then doing it”. It seems like the university still has problems with this concept – especially when the people doing the consultation are the same people that were responsible for (and are still personally attached to) the old and failed plans.


4 Comments so far

  1. Blake on October 28, 2007 2:05 am

    Well there really are no surprises here. I’m really happy that Brendon and Matt put Option 4 into the mix as it intuitively turned out to be the most popular one. Statistically speaking, 300 is a really bad sample, but the committee is actually quite happy with the turnout. It’s important to note that not all respondents were students (I can’t remember what the percentages were). Also, although around 750 forms were handed out, only around 300 were returned. This says to me that the form was too long for students to bother to fill it out, as had been previously mentioned as a possible concern.

  2. Fire Hydrant on October 28, 2007 8:42 am

    For the average student, staff or faculty member, nothing here’s surprising. For Planning, it’s in conflict with their professional opinion. They’re expected to report to Board in November with what they found and where to go from here — should be interesting.

    UBC Community Hall is like “global citizen” — it sounds good, and you can figure out later what it meant. And “Joe” is Joe Stott, Director of Planning, not Joe Redmond, now-retired VP of Properties.

    One advantage of a long and detailed form is that the input you do get is far more likely to be informed and thoughtful. If anyone needs evidence that this was not skewed by an anti-development faction, have a look at how the three types of retail did comparatively: food outlets got a passing grade, convenience stores didn’t do that well, and “other” retail outlets finished dead last. That reflects needs and desires, not a blanket commercial-is-bad approach. In particular, a good number of people had to support both the knoll and food outlets for this outcome.

    Data reduction: Blogger won’t let me put a table in a comment, so each row here is the type of land use, the percent approving of it (4&5), the percent disapproving (1&2), and an overall grade:

    Alumni Centre | 24.43% | 52.01% | 38.29%
    SUB expansion | 59.94% | 19.61% | 66.04%
    Board room | 17.90% | 59.66% | 31.04%
    Retail (food) | 44.10% | 35.67% | 50.91%
    Retail (convenience) | 20.17% | 59.38% | 31.02%
    Retail (other) | 9.60% | 81.92% | 16.17%
    Continuing Studies | 20.17% | 55.18% | 34.17%
    Development Office | 7.28% | 75.07% | 20.17%
    Grassy knoll | 80.23% | 12.89% | 81.81%
    Knoll alternative | 61.52% | 20.99% | 65.96%
    Open space | 80.28% | 8.73% | 80.35%
    Residential | 11.68% | 80.91% | 17.02%
    Student lounge | 68.23% | 13.26% | 73.55%
    UBC community hall | 50.56% | 27.09% | 57.89%
    Welcome centre | 48.18% | 32.21% | 55.81%

    So knoll and open space got grades of A-, student lounge got a B, C-range grades went to SUB, food, knoll alternative, community hall, and welcome center, and everyone else should be reconsidering whether they really belong in the program — none are even in the 40s where they might get bumped up to a pass. Alumni at 38% is an interesting case, because it’s remarkably similar to community hall (I think community hall copied), but the latter got a much higher grade.

    I should probably also note that Planning has done most of a 2-year process in about 4.5 months, and has done a remarkably good job of it. What remains is implementing what they’ve heard. Which could be difficult for some of them to swallow.

  3. Alex Lougheed on October 28, 2007 10:06 am

    I asked the people running the consultation booth who would be administering the various options (as, for me, that says a lot more than what the spaces intent is). The answer I got from a follow-up email for the community center was “we don’t know”.

  4. tristan on October 29, 2007 12:56 am

    381 forms were filled out. (366 in paper, ~15 online). Theh forms were long. That is most definately a significant sample in terms of number. The sample was probably not random, but rather was probably skewed toward people who have time to fill out a long form, and/or who are informed. That’s fine, as far as I can tell.

    Interestingly, most organized trekPARKers, that I was aware of, thought the petition was biased and did not endorse or even promote or even pay attention to the consultations. (I personally tought that was a bad idea, but that’s ok). The Knoll article from that week was actually entitled “Park Protestors Oppose Consultations”! That really seems quite funny now, since everyone worked so hard on getting consultations, but it reflects how biased people thought the forms were, and also how biased the people who would be interpreting the forms were/are.
    In a way, Brendon Goodmurphy has always been right to promote the consultations, regardless of the bias in the forms, for this reason: because students and faculty and staff are smart, and can see through bias.
    The most amazing statistic, to me, is that out of ~350 people who ranked options 1 (the old plan), only a single solitary person ranked it 5 out of 5. That’s 0.3%, approximately.

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