For Immediate Release
November 6th, 2023
VANCOUVER, BC – The Alma Mater Society (AMS) of the University of British Columbia (UBC) Vancouver represents 61,000+ students, including thousands of students who reside in university neighbourhoods.
We endorse the UBC Land Use Plan Draft’s goal for at least 50% of the neighbourhood’s housing to be occupied by UBC students, faculty, and staff. However, we would like to see students prioritized in obtaining housing on campus and for students to exceed the minimum 25% full-time student population residing on campus as set out by the UBC Land Use Plan Draft. With 57% of students in the AMS’ annual Academic Experience Survey reporting facing financial hardship related to housing, we see that students are forced to move further and further away from campus and significantly increase commute times, affecting their physical, mental, and academic well-being.
We appreciate the reiteration of meeting the goals of the Housing Action Plan. However, the AMS continues to ask for an increased pace in the construction of units for students and for significantly more than the currently planned 3,300 student beds to align with previous and projected student population growth rates. Seeing the University make commitments towards student housing is admirable, but seeing timely progress be made on these commitments and increased ambitions in target numbers is what we hope to see from a top 40 institution.
We align with the calls for a 50/50 for rental to market-developed housing to be a part of the Land Use Plan’s goal. Still, we understand that would entail a higher cost for the University. Therefore, we additionally support increased density than what is proposed to ensure that affordable housing is at the forefront of the Land Use Plan.
We also welcome and appreciate the reference to the UBC Child Care Expansion Plan and the University’s commitment to upholding the Plan, but noting that we offer over 900 childcare spaces on campus and are one of the largest university-based childcare providers in North America, we hope that this does not come at the expense of plans to increase housing for students on campus.
We are excited to see the University’s commitment to a robust transportation system on campus with its commitment to continue to advocate for Skytrain to UBC until it is constructed and operating. With the expected increase of population in Metro Vancouver, the University’s commitment to increase transit usage to and from campus, and the 99-B Line continuing to be the busiest bus line in North America, Skytrain to UBC continues to prove itself to be a necessity rather than a luxury. We also commend the University’s commitment and support for the Rapid Bus Transit Lines along the 41st/49th Corridors connecting the Campus to Metrotown, a Skytrain station to be built in the Southern side of the campus near the Wesbrook Neighbourhood, as well as exploring greater on-campus shuttle lines to provide students with greater accessibility to transportation to, from, and within the campus. We look forward to continuing working collaboratively on these fronts in the coming years to improve transit accessibility for all students.
We also appreciate the University’s continued support for the U-Pass program, which continues to beneﬁt thousands of students.
Finally, we welcome the University’s vision for urban, high-density housing, which would help solve the housing affordability crisis in a limited area of land to work with, that is, the University Endowment Lands.
Overall, the AMS welcomes the goals set out by the current Draft of the Land Use Plan but will continue to expect the University to go above and beyond when it comes to affordable and greater housing on campus for students and looks forward to working collaboratively on advocacy efforts for an accessible transportation network connecting the campus.
Kamil Kanji (he/him)
AMS Vice-President Academic and University Affairs
Joshua Kim (he/him)
AMS Interim Vice-President External