Between the Motions: Sustainability squabbles, neighbourhood negotiations at July 15 meeting

On sunny Wednesday, July 15, councillors were stuck inside attending AMS Council, which took place over Zoom.

Councillors passed simple consent agenda budget changes, while also discussing student services priorities and sustainability priorities for the year, along with a continuation of the University Neighbourhood Association (UNA) saga.

Adjusting priorities

After feedback from a previous Council meeting, a revised sustainability priorities report returned with councillors saying the AMS should set an earlier date for achieving net-zero carbon emissions.

At times, it felt like a broken record, with councillors repeating concerns from last meeting and execs repeating their responses.

Engineering representative Emma Dodyk began the discussion, saying the projects listed seems like “fun” undertakings — but wished they had been framed as guiding the AMS toward carbon neutrality.

Senate representative Chris Hakim and law representative Sebastian Cooper pressed that the net-zero should be 2025, not 2030+ as it is written in the report.

Sylvester Mensah Jr, VP Administration, expressed support for an earlier deadline and said the 2030 date was in line with UBC’s own timelines.

At the end of the discussion, councillors passed a motion to include a commitment in the sustainability report that the AMS be carbon neutral by the year 2025 or sooner.

UNA saga, continued

When it came time for discussion of a new Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that the AMS and the UNA had signed, councillors went into a lengthy in-camera session.

The public conversation was simply a back and forth between last year’s president and the current president. Hakim, the former AMS president, launched into a history of this issue, which stemmed from a proposed bylaw change that would remove the AMS-appointed seat on the UNA Board.

The new MOA still does not ensure representation to the Board, but indicates a greater commitment from the UNA to consider student priorities. Hakim encouraged the executive to not settle for this agreement.

“I really need to emphasize here that we shouldn't be agreeable when organizations decide they want to cut out students and short term renters, which are constituents.”

Evans defended the agreement, emphasizing that “nothing got done last year.”

“So what this is ... a solution to the fact that nothing happened,” he said. “We're not just laying down and taking it just because we're tired or lazy or don't want to deal with it. We had to fight for 14 hours of mediation to get where we're at today.”

In the end, the MOA was accepted, with 21 councillors voting for it, one voting against and six abstentions.