After a failed referendum, Bike Kitchen faces 'challenging year' ahead amid financial insecurity

After a failed referendum for a fee increase during this year's AMS elections, the Bike Kitchen is working with the AMS to figure out a path forward amid financial insecurity.

Shop Manager Alex Alvarez said staff are reassessing the Kitchen’s budget, seeking direct financial aid and planning to run another referendum in next year's elections.

The Bike Kitchen is "not in immediate danger of being closed down,” but it will be increasing its prices and labour rates.

Exact costs have yet to be determined, but Alvarez said the Kitchen will have "to walk a fine line between saving ourselves and also not pricing out our clientele who are … students on a budget."

The Bike Kitchen is also hoping to get financial aid from the AMS.

VP Finance Mary Gan said that the AMS has been looking into supporting the shop through the Sustainability Projects Fund (SPF). If the Bike Kitchens programs and services are "​​applicable to the SPF" requirements, then they could support the Bike Kitchen through this "existing fund, that the AMS already collects fees for,” Gan said.

If the SPF is applicable, the fund could supply up to $15,000 to the Bike Kitchen, and Gan said she hopes to run the proposal "through [the] Finance Committee in the next couple of weeks" to get it approved.

Putting up more signage and advertising could also help, Gan said.

“Especially when UBC is so big, there's so many students, and with COVID a lot of students on campus are essentially very new to campus and so they may not be aware of all these resources that are provided to them.”

For the Bike Kitchen to be sustainable in the long run, both Alvarez and Gan agreed that the shop would need to run another referendum next year and get the fee increase passed.

Gan said she is helping prepare "a game plan" for next year's referendum. She described this year’s process as "pretty quick," and said that next year, they should "fully plan things out ahead of time," which would help ensure "positive results."

Alvarez said they are planning "a year-long campaign" to increase students' awareness about the Bike Kitchen.

Part of this campaign would be relaunching DIY instructional classes and hosting events that create spaces for “marginalized communities [who] have been hit pretty hard with COVID.” The Bike Kitchen has hosted different events, like women's night and pride night. Alvarez wants to "rebrand those a little bit and freshen them up.”

Ultimately Alvarez hopes the Bike Kitchen can patch together for another “year of survival.”

“It’ll definitely be one of the more challenging years we face.”