Candidate Questionnaire: Tim Blair

Posted by: | January 10, 2008 | 1 Comment

Tim Blair is a candidate for the UBC BoG

Why do you want to be on the Board of Governors?
The BoG need a clear voice in favor of the UBC Farm and one that has experience in promoting sustainable building practices. The BoG listens to students through the AMS, the two elected officials and through student consultations but direct student consultations have typically been poorly designed and poorly recorded.

How would you use your position on BoG to enhance students’ voice on campus?
I would strongly advocate for proper student consultation. True consultation involves inclusion of students at the beginning. The university must be open about its preferences and its future ideas, otherwise students do not know to what they are expected to respond. Consultation questions should be specific, or if they are vague then adequate explanation should be provided as to why, and student responses should publicly tracked so future students can easily understand how ‘the plan’ evolved from the input of past students. I would use my voice to ensure that the mistakes made in planning the University Boulevard and the problems with the consultations of the 1997 Official Community Plan and the 2000 Campus Community Plan are not repeated.

What specific changes to the University Boulevard project would you advocate?
The University Boulevard, while far from being complete, is almost out of the hands of the BoG. The problems we have encountered over the past several years on this project are the result of decisions made many years ago (by the BoG and others). I would focus small design details related to the project to ensure it helps create a central vibrant core, with green space, that serves students.

This year Jeff served as both a governor and AMS president, which seemed to strengthen his voice at the BoG table. What would be your relationship with the AMS?
The BoG rep needs to be continually communicating with students and I plan to serve the AMS though the referendum committee and help with the ongoing work of VP Admin and the SAC. While Jeff’s dual role gave him some clout (as representing students), due to his busy schedule he also needed Darren to provide deep insight and foresight into some issues. The pair worked really well.

What experience(s) and skills do you have that will enable you to convince the Board appointees that your point of view is preferable to theirs?
I have experience in sustainable community planning from my past work with engineers and community planners. The BoG are struggling with the ideas of sustainable building design (or more specifically they are struggling against the developers resistance towards green building construction practices). The new BC Green Building Code will be release this spring and it is important that UBC not only meet but exceed the standards for ALL new construction projects. I have been involved in LEED building design (example 1) and I understand the benefits, requirement, and most importantly the pre-requirements needed to make a building ‘sustainable’ by today’s standards.

The BoG is also getting involved in the recently initiated review of UBC’s Integrated Stormwater Management Plan (ISMP). Up until now UBC has had a very piecemeal approach to stormwater management with the usual plan to flush our slat ridded stormwater out into the sensitive seagrass ecosystem next to Wreck Beach. I have worked on several ISMPs (example 1, example 2), and I am able to help lead the BoG though this process to ensure it is done right, that proper questions are asked, and that time and money isn’t wasted.

What is your vision for the governance model of UBC?
Metro Vancouver (formerly GVRD) wants UBC to decide what it’s going to be when it grows up. Metro believes that the existence of UBC outside of a municipal boundary has had adverse effects on both residences and neighbouring communities.

The campus population is 40,000 daytime and 20,000 night-time and we are still unincorporated. There are many incorporated town in this province with populations of 2,000 or less. Following the failed attempt by Metro to get the provincial government involved it has become obvious that we have to resolve this issue ourselves. It’s not rocket science that we need an adequate governance system and this will be a major topic at the BoG this year.

There are many difficult details to work out but the future system must be free of development red tape that can cause political interference. There will likely be a mayor and council, who can manage the municipal services and infrastructure, but who will approve permits to build, who will continue the community planning? We will likely need to develop a sharing model whereby half the members of the Advisory Urban Design Panel, and the Development Permit Board must be appointed by the Mayor and Council. The UBC appointees would likely help keep the approval process streamlined while a sober second look is provided by council. Community Planning should be handed over to council and given a clear mandate to work the UBC Campus Planning.

There are still many outstanding issues; such as how will students in residence be represented? How will cost sharing work for recreation facilities? Will UBC pay municipal taxes?

Other models include creating two municipalities (UBC and UEL) that may lead to municipal bickering and appeals to Victoria, or annexation of UBC into the City of Vancouver (most unlikely option).


1 Comment so far

  1. Sunshine on January 17, 2008 6:18 am

    Kudos to Mr. Blair for having such a carefully designed platform. I like how he is sticking to one issue he is clearly passionate about, the UBC Farm. I believe that people with clear, definable goals have the potential to reach those goals. I dislike candidates whose campaigns are based on vague ideas.

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