Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Canadian Economy Makes a Recovery

According to Statistics Canada, Canada's GDP grew 0.6 percent in January which almost makes up for the 0.7 percent loss we experienced in December. This seems unexpected since our largest trade partner, the United States, may already be in a recession. Even more strange, the reason for this growth is because of a small boom in the manuafacuring sector which exports most of its good to the US.

Other areas such as the financial and agricultural sectors helped this growth, but the mining and forestry sectors hampered it because of their decline. Unfortunately, this was only January. Things may not have been so well in the last couple months thanks to the crumbling US economy.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Earth Hour this Saturday!

Tomorrow at 8:00 PM people around the world will shut off all their power for one hour to help raise awareness about greenhouse emissions. Inspired by the city of Sydney in Australia, this idea has spread around the world and when Sydney did it they saved 10 percent of the energy consumption.

If you don't mind sitting in the dark for an hour, remember to cut your power use to zero tomorrow at 8:00.

Friday, March 14, 2008

UNBC Green Day: The Makings of an Expo '86

by Simran Lehal
News Editor

The Environmental Studies 325 class is celebrating the environment on March 20 by hosting a major Green Day event with a wide array of artistic, informational, and promotional venues.
Robin Chang, an organizer for the event, feels one purpose of Green Day is to eliminate the tough middle work of finding information about green initiatives. Rather, “all the major partners and promoters of the environment around campus and Prince George will be showcased right here, readily accessible for all students and any student input.”
Local artisans, the UNBC Drama Club, and the Streetspirits theatre crew will all be present; some will have hidden performances around the school. There will be a clean air symposium and a showcase featuring Annie Booth’s work on sustainable landscapes. Multiple academic departments will be setting up, along with local Chartwell’s and CUPE workers. The new Prince George Pesticide Coalition may also be present, along with a few politicians. Facilities will be also on hand to speak about UNBC’s own green initiatives: for example, unknown to most students, much school furniture is made of recycled materials.
Chang is hoping the initiative will turn into an annual event, as it “allows diverse people to unite under an initiative fundamental to this university as a whole. Plus, it’s only a month away from earth day.”
Targeting green living, green industry, green entertainment, green research, and several other green areas, Chang and her fellow organizers are preparing for a great student turnout. Eco-friendly posters made of recycled cardboard will be springing up around campus soon.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Could This Be the New Provost of UNBC?

Photo by Haakon Sullivan

by Haakon Sullivan

Dr. Mark Dale, Dean of Graduate Studies and Research at the University of Alberta, is in the process of applying for the position of Provost at UNBC. As part of this process, Dr. Dale had to argue his case for why he is suited for this position at UNBC in front of a group of students and faculty. His credentials are many and his vision for UNBC is strong.
Since obtaining his PhD from Dalhousie University, Dr. Mark Dale has served in many positions ranging from being a Chair of Botany Studies to an Associate Chair of Undergraduate Studies. He has served in his current position, Dean of Graduate Studies and Research, for the last ten years at the University of Alberta and this is where he has started many initiatives including a program that sends graduate students out into the community to teach others about their field. In this position he has also gained experience in situations such as faculty evaluations and student appeals.
Some challenges that he says that he will have to deal with as Provost of UNBC are money, people, and “stuff”. People give the money, money buys the “stuff” and the “stuff” brings the people in. Keeping this cycle up will be one challenge. Other challenges he sees include providing students with programs they want and integrating teaching and research.
Some personal attributes he says that he has is that he is dedicated and hard working with knowledge of universities and insight into how they operate. He also says that he has a style that involves shared responsibility and lots of communication.
When it came time for the students and faculty to ask him questions, much more information was gained.
When it comes to research, he says that it should be of the highest quality and since we can’t do everything we should see what is done best and concentrate on that. He also says that there is a lot of potential for research in the surrounding communities since UNBC was built to serve them.
When it comes to evaluations, he said that basing teaching performance on student evaluations are unreliable due to the “lovability” factor and peer evaluations should be used to supplement the student ones.
Why did Dr. Mark Dale have to do an “interview” in front of students and faculty? It was because the university administration wants feedback from everyone to see if he is who they want to be Provost. This position affects everyone at UNBC, so the university will listen to feedback about the applicant to help decide whether he’s the right man for the job.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

University Heights Neighbourhood approved by City Council

By Rebecca Carmichael

Despite some student concerns about the environmental and social sustainability of the University Heights project, rezoning for Phase I was unanimously approved by the Prince George City Council. This phase will involve 63 single family homes on 56 hectares of land over the next year. Over the next 20 years, this will expand to 673 hectares, theoretically housing over 10,000 people. Although most students were unaware of the public hearing leading up to the Council decision, there was a small information session for students held at UNBC last month.
Heather Oland of L&M Engineering spoke to around 20-30 students and faculty on February 11 as a part of a series of planning talks organized by Eric Rappaport in order to inform and engage Environmental Planning students and anyone else interested about real world planning issues. The topic of the UHNP was particularly relevant due to recent media attention and student criticism of the plan. One of the concerns raised previously was that there was not enough public consultation with students, so the information session was also intended to address part of that gap. Whether that goal was actually accomplished is debatable.
A presentation was given to students regarding the planning design of the neighbourhood. It is supposed to be built on principles of smart growth, winter cities, healthy communities, compactness, completeness, and connectivity. It should feature a mixture of residential and commercial, green space, parks and schools. This will eventually involve 2440 single family dwellings and 1410 multi-family units, along with a shopping centre similar to that found at Spruceland or College Heights. The road system will be expanded, with Ospika and Tyner being 4-laned throughout, University Way connecting to Highway 16, and Massey Drive potentially being connected between Highway 16 and downtown. The development is proposed to be completed over the next 20-25 years in five phases, eventually housing over 10,000 people. It will start near College Heights and then expand towards UNBC over this time.
L&M Engineering is the firm contracted for the engineering, design and planning of the development, while the project was proposed and funded by BFW, a large development firm, and approved by the City of Prince George. That meant that while L&M could answer questions about the planning aspects of the project, some of the larger scale implications that people asked about were beyond the scope of their work.
Some of the most vocal concerns came from Mark Thompson regarding the lack of concern about wildlife habitat destruction, shared by other students. Amphibians, ungulates and small mammals would be killed or displaced by the development. He felt that people have a responsibility not to further the global loss of biodiversity and the extinction of species, and that we should take the benefits of the natural economy into greater account. Scaling down the project or using alternate plans that incorporate greater wildlife protection could help preserve some of these values.
Heather Oland responded defensively to these comments, saying that L&M was not responsible for what the government regulations dictate be protected, or for what the view of society as a whole to the environment was. Their professional responsibility was only to complete the planning they were hired for. The project is within provincial and federal regulations for environmental impact assessment and protection.
Planning student Thomas Cheney brought up concerns that the development was too spread out and low density to be considered “compact”. The response was that the word compact was used in comparison to the rest of Prince George, not necessarily in general, and that detached houses were more compatible to the housing market in Prince George than higher density dwellings. Thomas was also concerned that the size of development was more than the actual projected growth of Prince George during that time period, and that it would encourage people to move outward, causing community degradation of the city core. The response of L&M was that the development would occur in phases only when there was a market for it and that it was not their responsibility to dictate where people decide to live.
There were also concerns from students that not enough public consultation had been done. Two open houses were held, one in October 2006 at the Prince George Civic Centre to which 200 people attended, and one at UNBC in June 2007 to which 40 people attended. While L&M claimed that students had every opportunity to participate in these, very few were actually aware of these as they happened. It had not occurred to the company to specifically target students for consultation, and the part of the reason for the information session was to rectify this, although at this stage there was little opportunity for practical input into the first phase of development.
However, since this project will occur in five phases over the next 25 years, it is not all necessarily set in stone. The development will expand as the demand for housing does. There will likely be room for more consultation and changes to the plans as time goes on, including from those concerned about the sustainability of the project.

Friday, March 7, 2008

NUGSS Election Results 2008


Cameron Ehl

VP-Student Affairs

Troy Dickson-414
Shazad Shah-280
Devan Tasa-178


Gavin Chung-518
Nolan Clark-405


James De Vuyst-469
Nikki Lunoch-394


Elyse Elmslie-525
Carly Aronetz-330

First Nations Representative

Tamara Morrison-450
Meghan Toews-427

Colleges Representative

Lindsay Gardner-531
Drew Adamick-293

Women's Representative

Jennifer Kwan-483
Marguerite Kolie-353

Associate Director of Events and Planning

Trevor Morris-464
Shawn Rennebohm-333

Associate Director of Fundraising

Rachel Lawrence

Member at Large

Kristina Austman

U-Pass----70% in favor

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

NUGSS Candidates Go Toe-to-Toe Day Before Elections

By Simran Lehal
News Editor

NUGSS candidates presented their platforms this afternoon to a large Wintergarden crowd in preparation for the March 5th-6th voting period.

Speaking like a winner, sole presidential candidate Cameron Ehl promised "continued devotion to the student body," and celebrations for the capstone NUSC project for the year to come.

VP Social candidates James De Vuyst and Nikki Lunoch promised more NUGSS presence on campus. De Vuyst's 3 principals: promotion, campus culture, and innovation were supplemented by his desire to create a biweekly concert series on campus next year. Lunoch stressed the promotion of multiculturalism and quirky events like Santa Claus Olympics.

Speeches heated up when the moneymen, Gavin Chung and Nolan Clark, took to the podium to campaign for VP Finance. Question period, lasting a lengthy 14 minutes, brought out topics like increasing student accessibility to NUGSS financial statements, possibly revising the tiered NUGSS club system, and questioning the NUGSS/Over-the-Edge relationship. Chung would like to increase cooperation between the two autonomous organizations in order to increase student body interest, whereas Clark sees the NUGSS/Over-the-Edge relationship fine as is.

Troy Dickson, Shazad Shah, and Devan Tasa fought for VP Student Affairs, with Dickson citing time spent as a Resident Assistant an asset and Tasa touting his extensive knowledge of NUGSS policy. Carly Aronetz and Elmslie Elyse vied for VP External, while Meghan Toews and Tamara Morrison campaigned for First Nations Rep.

The heavy-duty question of the day, however, was posited at the VP Finance candidates: who would Chuck Norris endorse in a campaign race? The self-proclaimed "Asian invasion" Chung or the self-titled "Serious" Clark?

The answer will be decided with the conclusion of your voting on Thursday evening and the subsequent posting of results by student media.

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