Why is an organization like OUR needed? Is it not one of the UNA’s roles to advocate on behalf of residents? Indeed, the election material mailed to all UNA members in late August states that “the UNA advocates on behalf of the community on issues of major importance to residents.”
The reality is that the UNA has not proven itself to be a strong advocate on certain issues, particularly those relating to land use planning. This may be because the regular business of the UNA occupies all the time and effort of the directors. Or, for issues where residents’ interests are in conflict with those of UBC, it may be because the UNA lacks sufficient independence from the University. Whatever the reasons, it is clear that residents need a stronger voice to stand up for their interests. OUR provides that voice.
OUR also has concerns with the functioning of the UNA itself. These include the failure to consult sufficiently with residents, the inadequate role for elected directors, and the UNA’s slow processes for doing things. Often, it takes pressure from outside before an organization will consider reforms. OUR intends to be the source of pressure for reform of the UNA.
With elected directors who share OUR's concerns, the UNA could take on a more vigorous role in representing residents and could be willing to implement reforms. That is why OUR is supporting a slate of candidates in the present UNA election. Even with the election of these candidates, there will continue to be a role for OUR, for example in providing input to the UNA.
The U-Town community has reached a stage in its development where an examination of governance options is desirable. There may be an option that is preferable to continuing with the UNA. This is a matter that transcends the UNA, and would best be undertaken as a resident-led process. OUR is seeking to be the catalyst for such a process.