AMS VP external will continue housing, transit advocacy with new municipal leaders

Ken Sim is now Vancouver's mayor.

AMS VP External Erin Co, who advocates to all levels of government on UBC issues, said her team will continue to lobby on housing affordability and transit, pushing the new government to fulfill their promises on those issues.

Sim was elected mayor on October 15, alongside eight councilors from his A Better City (ABC) party. The party’s platform primarily focuses on regulating the housing market and decreasing congestion around Vancouver through new transit lines.

On transit, Co said her team will be pushing on finalizing the SkyTrain’s business case, which is a full funding proposal is needed to get the project approved. She emphasized the potential benefits of the line for all of Vancouver, not just UBC. 

“I think when people hear about a Skytrain to UBC in general, people think that it’s just going to benefit UBC students and campus, but that’s very much not the case," she said. "[I]t’s a great way to invest not only in you know, connecting UBC campus — which has 50,000 students — to the rest of Vancouver, but also making sure that the families nearby are able to get connected with the rest of the city."

Sim has said the SkyTrain to UBC is not a top priority, focusing on other rapid transit projects around the city.

“Even if we do get funding [for the SkyTrain], it’s years in the future, and we have immediate congestion issues now and getting around our city, and that’s what we should be focused on,” Sim told the CBC.

Vancouver has so far only been given enough funding to build phase 1 of the SkyTrain project from VCC-Clark to Arbutus, which is scheduled to open in 2025. 

TransLink’s recent service performance review shows buses running to and from UBC, including the 99 B-Line, consistently rank as the most used in the Lower Mainland.

On housing, Co said her team will focus on promises made during the campaign, mentioning ABC's promise to improve rental housing supply.

"More housing means the demand is met better," she said.

Sim has promised to increasing the market for both rental and sale housing, primarily by addressing the current permit backlog and reducing the time it takes to approve building permits. 

If he succeeds, reducing permitting wait times could increase options for housing in the city, but Sim has not detailed how he plans to accomplish this goal.

While Co’s team is currently preparing for federal lobbying week, they are also setting up meetings with municipal elected officials to lobby on student issues.

Co said the VP external office will be working to make sure elected leaders follow through on campaign promises which would benefit students.

“We’re capitalizing on [what] they said that they’ll be fighting for and making sure that it’s top of mind for them as they move forward in their roles.”