Friday, October 24, 2014
Last updated: 12 hours ago

Last Words: The UBC Farm revisited, Toope’s subway flip-flop and the decrepit old SUB

Comic Indiana Joel/The Ubyssey

Comic Indiana Joel/The Ubyssey

AMS may be kicking a metaphorical hornet’s nest with farm rezoning

The AMS has recently, finally and unexpectedly agreed to finance a student-run brewery at the UBC Farm. It’s the first positive, concrete development to materialize in the quest for a student-run brewery, but what does it mean for the farm it’ll be built on?

Once upon a time (starting in 1997, up until 2008-ish), UBC considered the farm a “future housing reserve.” All of that lovely land used to grow the organic kale that shows up in those coveted CSA boxes was slated to become yet another sea of condos.

But back in those mythical days, UBC students were louder and angrier, and they tended to band together more often. So they started a protest movement to save the entire 24-hectare farm from development forever, rather than just leaving few greenhouses in whatever area wasn’t needed for glass towers.

They held rallies, marches, concerts, petitions. Support for the farm stretched beyond its kombucha-swilling base and became one of the most widely embraced campus causes in recent memory. And the cause was embraced outside of UBC, too: the board of Metro Vancouver voiced their support for the farm, as did superstar local-food pundit Michael Pollan.

Then, facing overwhelming pressure, UBC capitulated. In 2008, they promised to back off on any possibility of future market housing in the area. In 2011 the farm was officially zoned “Green Academic,” precluding any market developments in the future.

But the plan to open up a commercial brewery on the farm poses a potential snag. In a pair of documents outlining UBC’s official stance and plan for the Farm going into the future, there’s no mention of a large-capacity brewery project.

The AMS is already starting to express concern that UBC might need to “reopen” or amend its Land Use Plan in order to accommodate an ambitiously sized brewery. Let’s hope today’s students are up to the task of defending the purpose of the farm as passionately and aggressively as their forebears were. Because we just might still need it.

Come on, Toope. Say you want a subway

Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson, an elected official, is currently in the middle of a major, potentially risky campaign: trying to get a Broadway subway line built from Commericial Drive to UBC.

It’s risky because the city has no power to get the subway built; the decision to fund the project will likely be made in Victoria, not at our city hall. So if the next provincial government doesn’t dig the idea (sorry!), Robertson’s reputation could fall in voters’ eyes.

UBC President Stephen Toope accompanied Robertson at a press conference to promote the subway project. Well, sort of. The purpose of the press conference has now been called into question — courtesy of UBC Public Affairs.

Vancouver Courier city hall reporter Mike Howell wrote a column that stated Toope and Robertson called the conference to promote building a UBC-bound subway. Then UBC’s public affairs department gave Howell a call.

Apparently, although Toope appeared at a press conference promoting a subway line, Toope himself (and the rest of UBC, by extension?) doesn’t support a subway line per se. No, Toope likes the idea of rapid transit out to UBC, but he doesn’t care whether it goes above ground or below it.

And to this, we say bah. C’mon Toope, put your subway where your mouth is. If you’re going to ride the media wave started by Robertson and co., don’t expect that you can turn around at the last minute and say you never actually wanted to promote the thing you were ostensibly there to promote.

A underground subway tunnel is a more expensive option, but it’ll also be better-suited to accommodate a rise in ridership if, say, UBC raises enrolment, hires more staff and becomes more densely populated. And those definitely aren’t things Toope wants to happen, right?

So stop being timid. Take an actual goddamn position on this and enter the fray.

The SUB is falling apart

Last week an entire stall in the SUB basement men’s washroom was “closed for maintenance.” The maintenance involved a garbage can under a leak in the ceiling. Turns out the reason water was dripping through the ceiling was because there was a much larger pool of water accumulating over the stall. At some point last Wednesday, the ceiling over the stall collapsed. The result: wet debris covering the entire stall. The stall is still closed for maintenance.

Just when we thought the SUB’s plumbing was under control, brown sludge began dripping from the ceiling outside the bubble tea place on Friday.

The AMS has gone out of their way to create a marketing campaign to promote the old SUB. They should probably put more effort into making sure it isn’t falling apart.

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    A subway line to UBC is a ridiculous and ludicrous proposition. Just a few reasons: 1) cost. It’s estimated that the bill for 15km of subway will be $3bn. Yes, three BILLION. So there’s that aspect to it. 2) Gregor Robertson has said that Broadway is one of the busiest bus routes in North America. Whilst I’m not sure of the legitimacy of such claims, or where he gets the statistics for that from, I’m pretty sure a great idea is to tear it up for a couple of years to build it. 3) To this end, think of the chaos it will cause. Does anyone remember the Canada Line being built? Many businesses lost out on that one. And weren’t fully compensated by the city for losing their livelihoods. 4) It won’t actually be that much quicker to get Downtown, per se, nor to Cambie, than the current 99. You will still have to transfer to reach all the major commuting destinations. 5) Think about the long term development consequneces of creating a new link to UBC. Call me a pessimist, but I’m envisaging a drastic increase in development on the UEL as a result. It’s kinda nice being out here on our own. Build a subway, you encourage builders, businesses and developers to move out here. I think the majority of us are in conccurence that we don’t want to see parts of Pacific Spirit Park torn down to make room for even more apartment towers at the bereft of student housing, which as it stands, seems to be fairly low on the university’s priority list. All UBC wants is money and investment, which is why they will end up supporting a subway line. I’m not for one second suggesting that something does not need to be done about the Broadway situation, but I do not think spending a ridiculously large amount of money on a subway is the right direction, either.

    I encourage everyone interested in this issue to read this:
    http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2013/03/06/Vancouver-Transit-Report/