Inside the proposed AMS athletics fee referendum

On February 2, the AMS launched a petition for the referendum question, “Do you support the AMS establishing a graduated fee to contribute to the construction of a student fitness and recreation building at UBC Vancouver?” This new fee would put money towards the construction of new fitness and gymnasium space for students on campus, linked to the university’s GamePlan consultation that is currently still in progress.

“The fees that students are already paying [$21] are going towards programming, and that’s all of the classes and the games that are available to you right now,” said Ava Nasiri, AMS president. “What this new fee would be [for] is an actual building that you can see and touch.”

Preliminary plans for this fitness space would cost $45 million and include up to 40,000 square feet of fitness space, 20,000 square feet of gymnasium space and 10,000 square feet of support space such as meeting rooms and studio spaces.

“The discussion that we’ve had thus far with the AMS is that there’s a lot of support from the invested students around funding up to 50 per cent of the building, and that it would be up to the university to fund the remaining portion of the project,” said Kavie Toor, director of UBC facilities and business development.

If approved, the proposed fee will start at $5 and go up every year up to a maximum of $25. However, students will not be charged until the AMS reaches an agreement with the university including, but not limited to, their financial contribution. Fees will also not be collected until construction on the building has started.

As the Board of Governors will be making decisions around the GamePlan project within the next eight months, Nasiri believes that the timing of the referendum is key for the need for a new fitness space to be taken seriously by the university and the Board.

“By putting our money where our mouth is, we also get a seat at the table that makes the decisions around what the building looks like and how it’s run on the inside,” said Nasiri. “The purpose of the fee is to allow us as students to show our support for this project to move ahead, and to give us some standing ground so that we can also make formal requests and demands with the Board of Governors to support the other half of the project.”