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Posts Tagged "UBC"

2Jun

Thousands of academics in social sciences and humanities meet at UBC

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Salamander is a workshop/participatory performance for disabled people and their allies led by Petra Kuppers. Kuppers is giving a Salamander workshop in the water at the Aquatic Centre at Congress 2019 of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of B.C.


PNG

Academics from across the country aren’t going to jump in a lake at the University of B.C. but they’re going to do the next best thing: they’re going to jump into the pool.

They’ll be doing that as part of what’s called a Salamander workshop at Congress 2019.

Petra Kuppers, a disability performance scholar, has led the water-based events since 2013 in public pools and other bodies of water around the world to challenge ableism and celebrate the full diversity of human experience and embodiment.

“In the water, interesting intimacies happen,” Kuppers said. “People get to see one another in very open and vulnerable way.”

Public pools can be fraught with anxiety for many people, she said. If they’re a transgender person, it can be over what change room to use. If someone is disabled or has a body that’s different or is missing a limb, it can be about the difficulty of negotiating stairs.

One of the exercises Kuppers uses to build community is what dancers call ‘fish swish.’ It involves one person gently pulling another person’s feet from side to side.

“It’s a beautiful release for the lower back and lovely care we can give each other,” she said by phone.

Kuppers said she first started doing Salamander in Berkeley, California with the performance artist Neil Marcus.

Salamander is being organized as part of the meeting of the Canadian Association for Theatre Research at Congress 2019, the 88th annual meeting of Canadian academics in humanities and social sciences.

The event is one of several open to the public at the congress. Salamander is from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, June 3 at the Aquatic Centre which is a fully accessible pool. To take part, members of the public have to register with the Congress and for the event at Eventbrite. There is no charge for Salamander.

About 450 members of the public have registered for a free pass for the Congress.

Kuppers said she loves doing Salamander in public because of the reaction it provokes. She said people often notice what’s going on in a workshop and wonder: Why are they having such a good time?

“It doesn’t look like straight exercising or therapy. It look like people doing magical stuff together,” she said.

“I love when people get drawn in and it often happens. They get incorporated into it.”

On Sunday, 9,910 academics and researchers were registered to attend the 2019 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. About 5,000 academics from 73 scholarly associations are presenting papers at the congress which is the largest gathering of its kind in the country. The congress ends Friday.

Events open to the public include those in the Big Thinking Speaker Series which are in the Frederic Wood Theatre:

• David Suzuki and Ian Mauro, the co-director of the Prairie Climate Centre, will screen their latest film Beyond Climate which links climate change with the human activities that are creating heat waves, melting glaciers and burning forest. Tuesday, June 4, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

• Indigenous storytelling in theatre features a panel discussion with Sylvia Cloutier, Margo Kane, Lindsay Lachance and Corey Payette. They’ll talk about a variety of issues, including using personal experiences in their work, identity and cultural practices. Wednesday, June 5, 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.

Stan Douglas, visual artist, will talk about what it means to recreate moments from history and recording them with a camera. Douglas, one of the country’s leading artists, explores the boundaries of narrative and photography in his work. Thursday, June 5, 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

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24May

Congress 2019: UBC throws open its doors to academics, and the public

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UBC will throw open its doors for the 88th Annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences for seven days of meetings, presentations and panels for more than 10,000 academics and you too, if you want.

If that sounds about as dry as a mouth full of saltines, you might want to look again. More than 300 events are free to the public, including theatre and musical productions, art and literary exhibitions, lectures and poetry readings. You just have to register for a community pass.

“The public programming is incredibly rich,” said Laura Moss, the academic convener for the congress. “Anybody can come and have extraordinary access to contemporary research and a whole bunch of events, plays and films, along with the people that produce them.”

Congress 2019 (https://www.congress2019.ca/) is the biggest academic conference in Canada. Thousands of scheduled events will take place on the main campus of the University of B.C. starting June 1.

“We expect thousands of members of the public to come and there’s really a lot to see and do,” she said.

The keynote Big Thinking lecture series is stocked with artists and storytellers appearing daily at the Frederic Wood Theatre, including the multi-talented Indigenous performer Margo Kane, documentarist and scientist David Suzuki, artist Stan Douglas and novelist Esi Edugyan.

“Art can be a way to tease out important contemporary issues,” said Moss, a professor of Canadian literature at UBC. “I personally work at the intersection of art and politics and I really wanted to bring that out in the programming.”

The speakers will address issues of free speech, censorship and access built around three broad questions: Who speaks for whom? Who listens? And who benefits?

“We will explore who gets to talk, who is in the circle and who hears the messages and we should talk about who profits from that, someone or the community?” she said.

Moss designed the program to highlight the value of the arts and humanities in every facet of society and life.

Governments and universities have a near obsession with promoting STEM, for reasons of commerce and gender equity. And while there’s a lot of value in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the humanities and social sciences have not enjoyed the same level of public enthusiasm lately.

“I really wanted to shift the emphasis back to the humanities, the arts, the social sciences,” she said. “These are the social, political and cultural aspects of everyday life and they can be very grounded in public policy, but (we) approach it with the human impact in mind.”

Look back to look forward

The Galatea Project is a theatrical collaboration between UBC’s English department and Bard on the Beach to mount a production of John Lyly’s 1588 play Galatea about two girls disguised as boys who fall in love. The play is set in a low valley in 16th century Lincolnshire threatened by climate change.

I am not kidding.

“It’s incredible and one of the most relevant plays out there and it was written before Shakespeare,” she said.

Literary scholars shared years of their research into the play with the actors and directors. They in turn brought the characters’ struggles with gender issues, sexuality and an impending climate crisis to life more than four centuries after it was first performed for Queen Elizabeth I. Galatea will be performed June 2.

“People have been thinking and talking about these issues for centuries and there is a great deal we can learn by looking back at those conversations,” Moss said.

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale imagined a dystopian future in the ’80s that seems to become more relevant than ever in the age of Trump, she noted.

“There are 5,000 events happening over the course of the week, so it’s almost beyond imagining,” said Moss. “There is so much cool stuff, I want people to come and enjoy it.”

Dozens of literary and academic publishers are booked for the Congress Expo, including Vancouver’s Arsenal Pulp Press, Harper Collins Canada and publishing houses from Yale, MIT, Georgetown and University of Toronto. Some of the publishers are also holding scheduled events exploring themes of reconciliation, gender equity and politics among others.

Picture Perfect: Blind Ambitions is an exhibition of highly textured art by visually impaired artists and daily “meditative mash-ups” with artists and internationally renowned disability scholars, presented by UBC’s Wingspan and Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture.

Join the conversation

More than 70 academic associations will hold their annual meetings through the run of the conference between June 1 and 7 and thousands of the attending academics plan to present studies and papers to their peers.

“It’s hugely important for people to interact face-to-face,” said Moss. “Congress has 73 associations coming together ranging in size from more than a thousand members to just over a dozen in some disciplines like Hungarian studies.”

“Some universities have just one or two specialists in a particular area so this is the one time they have to come together and have really dynamic conversations among people who might be working most of the time in virtual isolation,” she said.

Parallel to those interactions between people in similar fields of study is a whole range of multidisciplinary events under the theme Circles of Conversation to encourage scholars, students, political leaders, citizens and activists to share, debate and dissent on topics such as sustainability, health, education and especially Indigenous issues.

“It’s an opportunity to problem solve in a social way that goes beyond disciplinary boundaries and those kinds of conversations need to happen in person,” she said.

It is often said that the real value of a conference is not in the presentations on the schedule, but in the freewheeling conversations that happen over drinks afterward. Circles of Conversation aims to create that kind of atmosphere among people who may approach problems from very different perspectives.

But if you prefer a more traditional after-conference convo, the Congress does have its own beer — Dialager by Howe Sound Brewing — brewed to promote dialogue and wash down snacks in the Social Zone.

Big ideas


SFU lecturer Stewart Prest will present a paper on emerging issues in civic politics.

Jason Payne /

PNG

SFU political science lecturer Stewart Prest is working feverishly on a paper he expects and even hopes will be gently critiqued and challenged by his colleagues at Congress 2019.

In The New Urbanism — which he has developed with political podcaster Ian Bushfield — Prest says that Vancouver’s traditional right-left political split has essentially disintegrated in favour of a more complex dynamic built along issues of urban life, housing, transportation and affordability.

Vancouver’s old two-channel political universe has exploded into a whole multi-channel cable-TV-style array of six-plus niche offerings, not based on traditional left-right divisions about social equity and fiscal responsibility, but on how the city will grow and house its citizens.

The right-leaning NPA failed to capture a majority in the last civic election after the party’s constituency split in three, with Hector Bremner founding Yes Vancouver and Wai Young heading the populist Coalition Vancouver.

The left has similarly fragmented into COPE, OneCity Vancouver and the spent brand that is Vision Vancouver.

“You can usually stick with an economic left-right spectrum as one axis, but depending on the issues of the day you can put any number of issues on the second axis,” said Prest. “We have a spectrum now in Vancouver that we hadn’t really thought about before.”

Prest and Bushfield sort the parties based on their support for “urbanist” fast-paced high density development or “conservationist” slow growth.

“When you plot them on urbanism, it makes how the parties and candidates were positioning themselves make a lot more sense,” said Prest.

Other levels of government may not be immune to the proliferation of parties with single-issue appeal. Canada already has six parties represented in Parliament, while the U.K. has nine.

An ethical dilemma


Ryan M. Katz-Rosene will present a paper on the environmental impacts of air travel.

Jean Levac /

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To fly, or not to fly. That is the question Ryan Katz-Rosene had to confront when deciding to attend Congress 2019.

The University of Ottawa assistant professor and vice-president of the Environmental Studies Association of Canada will be thinking about the carbon footprint of that flight. That’s because when he lands, Katz-Rosene will present a paper examining the aviation industry’s impact on Earth’s climate and the so-far fruitless efforts to curb its impact.

Air pollution caused by international flights has doubled over the past 20 years and is expected to double again in the next 20.

Already a brutally inefficient mode of transport, efficiency gains in commercial aviation are being outstripped by the growth of the industry by a worrying margin.

So, is it ethical to fly? The answers are tricky.

“It’s an unsolvable policy challenge,” said Katz-Rosene. “Aviation offers tremendous benefits to our society, whether it’s the value it contributes to the economy, the number of jobs that it contributes, but more importantly the connectivity,” he said. “We can see other parts of the world, visit family and friends.”

But those benefits really accrue only to the richest people on the planet. Before you protest about your impoverishment, 80 per cent of the world’s population has never set foot on a plane. If you fly — ever — you are an elite.

“Canada is a rich country and access to aviation is part of the norm for us and demand is growing tremendously,” he said.

But the environmental impacts of aviation as so severe that there is a growing movement of caring citizens who have decided it is not ethical to fly. Ever.

Katz-Rosene may join them, but not before leading a discussion of the industry’s plans to cap and then reduce the carbon footprint of international air travel through an agreement called CORSIA, Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation.

Will it work? Not so far.

Because most offsetting projects fail to reduce emissions, they amount to little more than a “carbon laundering scheme,” he said. “This will probably be my last work-related flight for the foreseeable future.”

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29Apr

Canada warnings about meds should be more consistent with other countries: UBC prof

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FILE – In this Friday, July 8, 2016 file photo, a prescription is filled at a pharmacy in Sacramento, Calif. On Friday, May 11 2018, Trump is scheduled to give his first speech on how his administration will seek to lower drug prices. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File) ORG XMIT: NY766


Rich Pedroncelli / AP

VANCOUVER — Health Canada needs to be more consistent with three other countries when it comes to issuing warnings about the safety risks of certain medications, especially if the jurisdictions with similar demographics have already advised patients taking the same drugs, a University of British Columbia professor says.

Barbara Mintzes, the lead investigator of a new study published Monday, said that between 2007 and 2016, Health Canada issued safety warnings for only 50 per cent of drug-safety issues identified in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.

She joined researchers in analyzing 1,441 advisories over that period and found regulators in all four countries were only consistent in the decision to warn their populations 10 per cent of the time regarding issues with the same medication.

Compared with the other countries, Health Canada issued advisories for only 317 of 635 drug-risk issues, or nearly 50 per cent of the drug-risk issues identified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.K. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration, the study said.

The study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine, published by the American Medical Association, and also involves researchers from York University in Toronto and the University of Sydney in Australia.

Health Canada issues warnings on its website, and Mintzes said it also sends letters to doctors who prescribe the drugs.


Dr. Barbara Mintzes is shown in a handout photo.

Danny Abriel /

THE CANADIAN PRESS

“Some of the safety warnings are put out by Health Canada, together with the manufacturer, and that will come as an individually sent letter to each doctor within a specialty or … a broader set of all doctors who are practising in Canada,” said Mintzes, who is an affiliate associate professor at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health.

She said that in January 2013, Health Canada issued a warning about commonly prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs, or statins, being linked to an increased risk of diabetes among patients already at risk for the disease.

However, the warning was issued a year after the United States and Australia informed patients about the drugs following large studies showing an association with diabetes, she said.

“Why did Health Canada wait another year after these warnings occurred in the U.S. and Australia?” asked Mintzes, who is also an associate professor at the University of Sydney.

The department said it regularly liaises with key international counterparts including the U.S., Australia and the European Union to determine if there are any emerging safety concerns. Once it becomes aware of any potential issues, an assessment is done to determine if a similar risk is warranted in Canada.

“Timing and content of risk communications can differ across jurisdictions for a number of reasons including, for example, how a product is used in Canada,” it said in a statement.

Health Canada should be more transparent about the information on which it bases its warnings, especially because clinical-trial data that were previously confidential have been publicly made available for some time following a similar stance in the European Union, Mintzes said.

“We could do more as a country to have more services available to people who are using medicines, with a user-friendly website that provides information to the public so they can just look up their drug fairly easily.”

Pharmacies in Canada are also inconsistent in providing patients with written information about drugs and possible adverse reactions, Mintzes added.

“We should have a legislated right to always having approved patient information provided to us every time we have a prescription dispensed.”

A study in 2013 by the Canadian Institute for Health Information said up to a quarter of patients who visit emergency rooms due to adverse reactions are admitted to hospital and that seniors at greater risk for such effects.

Antibiotics are among the most common drugs associated with adverse drug reactions, which are known to be associated with factors such as the number of drugs a patient is taking, the study said.


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21Mar

UBC researchers create robot to help sooth pain of NICU babies

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UBC researcher Liisa Holsti, with a therapeutic robot that simulates human skin-to-skin contact and helps to reduce pain for babies, in the neonatal intensive-care unit at B.C. Women’s Hospital in Vancouver on March 22.


NICK PROCAYLO / PNG

Nothing soothes a newborn’s pain like the tender touch of a loving parent, but researchers at the University of B.C. hope their new robot might help sometimes.

“Calmer” was created to mimic hand-hugging, a treatment in which a premature baby’s head, hands and legs are gently held in a curled position to help manage pain from medical procedures. Lead inventor Liisa Holsti developed the robot with colleagues at UBC and said it mimics some of the therapeutic aspects of skin-to-skin holding.

The white-metal device is about the size of a standard pillow. On top of it rests a silicon mat wrapped in Gore-Tex fabric, meant to feel like a parent’s soft touch. When the robot is turned on, its platform gently rocks up-and-down while playing the sound of a beating heart, both programmed to match the rate of a parent’s own breaths and heartbeat.

“The type of pain that these babies have actually changes their brain development and so what we’re trying to do is protect the brain of premature babies,” said Holsti, an associate professor at the department of occupational science and therapy.

Holsti was also lead scientist for the robot’s first randomized controlled trial to evaluate whether it reduced pain in premature babies at B.C. Women’s Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

The 49 premature babies in the study had just undergone a routine, medically ordered blood test, so the study caused them no additional pain. Half were hand-hugged, the other half were placed on the robot.

The researchers then looked at how the babies’ faces and hands changed, as well as their heart rates and brain-oxygen levels.

“We found no difference between the robot treatment and the human-touch treatment,” Holsti said.

Holsti stressed that the robot isn’t a replacement for human touch, but could be helpful in many cases. Her hope is that it could eventually be available for all premature babies.

“There are times when it’s very busy in an NICU and nurses may not be able to be there all the time when a lab tech comes to take the blood, and so our goal would be that Calmer would be available when parents can’t do skin-to-skin holding or nurses have to be doing other things,” she said.

“It’s an additive to care. It’s not meant to replace human beings,” she said.

Lauren Mathany, 34, a new Vancouver mother who works in public health, said that while “Calmer” wasn’t yet being used when her twin girls Hazel and Isla were born four months’ premature, she can see how it could have helped. It would have comforted the twins — now healthy, happy and close to 11 months old — and given some reassurance to Mathany and her husband, who works in construction, she said.


Lauren Mathany with twin sisters Hazel, left, and Isla is enthusiastic about a therapeutic robot that simulates human skin-to-skin contact, helping reduce pain for babies in the neonatal intensive-care unit at B.C. Women’s Hospital.

NICK PROCAYLO /

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“I think it would have been great,” Mathany said.

During the four months the girls were in the NICU, Mathany and her husband gave the girls plenty of hand-hugging and hours of skin-to-skin contact every day. They would sing and talk to them too.

But the new parents couldn’t be at the NICU around the clock and needed to rest so they could take proper care of themselves and the girls, she said.

“If the Calmer was available to them, we’d know that during medical procedures, blood work, etc., that there was something there to make them feel safe and reassured, and feel that we were still with them, even though we couldn’t be, physically,” she said.

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20Feb

Task force set up to tackle sexual harassment at UBC medical school

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UBC medical students are being sexually harassed more often than students in other Canadian medical schools, according to a new report.

An internal memo written by Dr. Andrea Townson, acting co-head of the UBC department of medicine, and sent to medical faculty at the University of British Columbia, refers to the “deeply concerning” results from a 2018 questionnaire of students who graduated from the 17 medical schools across Canada. Sexual remarks, uninvited touching and sexual assault are examples of harassment.

• Twelve per cent of students at UBC reported unwanted sexual advances and touching by faculty, fellow students, health professionals or patients, compared to a national average of 6.5 per cent.

• Thirty-three per cent of students at UBC said they were subjected to offensive sexist remarks, compared to the national average of 25 per cent.

• A third of UBC medical students also said they were subjected to racially offensive remarks, compared to the Canadian average of 12 per cent.

“We aren’t unique or isolated with these concerns but we are obviously not happy to see these high reported rates so it’s launched a number of different initiatives,” said Dr. Deborah Money, executive vice dean of the UBC medical school.

UBC results from the annual report have been “steady” over the past number of years, according to Money.

Money is chairing a dean’s task force meant to find ways to change the culture and environment at the medical school and to prevent mistreatment and harassment at the more than 80 training sites where UBC medical students learn, such as hospitals and clinics.

“Part of our work has to focus on learning from others, so we know what best practices look like.”

Sixty per cent of UBC medical graduates said they had been publicly humiliated. This may include being asked a question by a professor in a group setting, not knowing the answer and feeling shame about it because of, for example, how the instructor reacted.

This raises the question of whether students are becoming more sensitive to these kinds of learning tools.

“That’s a tough question. It’s an old style of teaching and how it’s done or how it’s perceived may be different in each scenario. We have actually made a video that tries to distinguish between being challenged academically and being bullied or called out so much that people feel humiliated,” she said.

Money said staff have collected data on the reported incidents of public humiliation, racially or sexually offensive remarks and unwanted sexual advances experienced by students.

Townson told clinical faculty members in the memo obtained by Postmedia that if they are concerned they’ve made a comment that might have been misinterpreted and want “a safe place to debrief” they should come and speak to her.

She said in the memo that “addressing student mistreatment” is a priority and students need a clear mechanism for reporting concerns. UBC has several satellite sites — Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna and Prince George — where undergraduate students learn and Townson said in her memo that the disturbing reports are “not isolated to a single site or a single rotation.”

Money said there are about 700 professors in the medical school and about 7,000 clinical instructors. When students complain about a particular instructor or fellow student, an investigation is launched to determine whether coaching or discipline is required. Money said she couldn’t say how often that occurs but said expulsion is “rare and extreme.”

The survey of medical school graduates in Canada covers a broad range of topics about the quality of education and student experience and has been conducted annually by the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada since 2015.

UBC is the fifth largest medical school in North America with 288 students admitted each year, and 4,500 students doing residencies and other postgraduate work.

At the same time as UBC is grappling with the mistreatment issue, the Lancet has published the results of an alarming survey showing that sexual harassment — by patients, teachers and peers of medical students — is common in Canada.

The study by researchers in Ontario and Alberta shows that despite policies and complaint mechanisms intended to promote respectful conduct and to prevent harassment, students are subjected to everything from sexist remarks to rape. A total of 807 incidents were reported by 188 respondents to the 2016 anonymous survey. The harassment occurred in clinics, medical schools and social settings; patients requested medical students touch their sexual organs and they groped doctors. One student said she was raped by a fellow student. Faculty members were implicated in about 20 per cent of the incidents that were predominately experienced by female students. Men were the most frequent perpetrators.

The authors say that faculty, peers and victims come to almost normalize sexual harassment. Students try their best to ignore it while at the same time finding it “confusing, upsetting and embarrassing.”

Many don’t report it because staying silent is seen as “less risky than confrontation or official reporting.”

Dr. Susan Phillips, a professor at Queen’s University and co-author of the Lancet study, said it is clear that women who are practising doctors or studying to become doctors are not immune to harassment and sexual assault.

“This is a societal problem. And we have to find ways to decrease the incidence,” said Phillips, who several years ago published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that 78 per cent of female doctors had been harassed by inappropriate comments or conduct by patients.

“Medical schools can’t fix societal problems but they can do more to legitimize student concerns. That means if they hear about a patient or faculty member making inappropriate comments, they don’t let it go. There has to be zero tolerance and in the case of faculty members, it has to be enforced.”

One limitation of the Lancet study is that few medical students completed the survey. There are about 11,600 medical students across Canada and just under 300 completed the consent form to submit answers to the anonymous survey.

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15Feb

TransLink mayors’ council votes “yes” on SkyTrain to UBC

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Buses and riders at the UBC bus exchange on January 30 2019.


Gerry Kahrmann / PNG

The TransLink Mayors’ Council has endorsed SkyTrain as the technology for the transit extension to the University of British Columbia.

At a meeting Friday morning, the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation voted in favour of moving ahead with planning for SkyTrain, with only two mayors opposed. The decision was in line with a recommendation made by TransLink staff in late January.

Ahead of the decision, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said that in the interest of acting “collaboratively” on a regional decision, he would not be calling for a weighted vote.

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum told the council he’d heard from UBC students and employees in his city who were looking forward to getting to campus by rapid transit.

“We’re certainly fully supportive of it,” he said.

Several mayors said they supported transit to UBC, but had concerns about the cost of the line and its priority over other transportation projects.

“It is not the only important transit project in the region,” said City of North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan, adding “we need to look at the long-term needs of the region.”

White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker worried the council seemed to be “rushing headlong into something several years out,” without really knowing what future growth of the region would look like.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart had questions about SNC-Lavalin and its involvement in future SkyTrain projects.

A staff report included in the meeting’s agenda said staff believe “an extension of the SkyTrain Millennium Line is the only technology option that can provide sufficient capacity to meet demand beyond 2045.”

The report also noted other potentially lower-cost alternatives, including light rail transit (LRT), had been “thoroughly explored and eliminated because of capacity limitations and deliverability challenges.”

Ridership for a new rapid transit line from Arbutus to UBC is projected to exceed 118,000 in 2045, which is more than the current Millennium Line corridor.

During the meeting, the mayor’s council also heard from several people who work at UBC and supported the line. Some spoke about their difficulties getting to and from campus on existing transit.

A representative of UBC’s Alma Mater Society said the line would promote “accessibility and equity of education and employment.”

Engineering student Kevin Wong told the council he commutes for two to three hours each day, some days leaving home at 6 a.m. and not returning until 11 p.m.

“SkyTrain to UBC would cut my commute in half,” he said.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart has been a strong advocate of extending rapid transit to UBC.

In late January, Vancouver city council voted nine-to-two to endorse a SkyTrain extension from Arbutus Street to UBC, and to direct staff to “advance the design development including public consultation to determine station locations, vertical and horizontal alignment.”

Procurement has begun for the Millennium Line extension from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus through a bored tunnel under Broadway. It’s estimated that the project will cost $2.83 billion and be completed in 2025.

The second phase of the 10-year transportation plan for the region set aside $3 million to develop concept designs and undertake pre-business-case work for the line to UBC. The last evaluation of options for the line was done in 2012, so last year TransLink hired a consultant to do a study to consider technology, operating assumptions, demand forecasts and costs.

Four options had been considered: optimized B-Line bus service, light rail from Arbutus to UBC, light rail from Main Street-Science World to UBC and SkyTrain from Arbutus to UBC.

The updated study found that by 2030 the B-Line and parallel corridors would be overcrowded. By 2045, both light-rail routes would be near or over-capacity, and parallel corridors would be crowded. SkyTrain would also be nearing capacity, however, it could be doubled with higher frequency and longer trains.

A preliminary cost estimate, in 2018 dollars, for a fully tunnelled SkyTrain extension would be $3.3 billion-$3.8 billion. However, the report notes inflation would push the cost to $4.1 billion-$4.8 billion if procurement begins in 2025 and the project is completed in 2030.

With files by Jennifer Saltman

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22Jan

Some women think it’s OK to smoke pot while pregnant: UBC report

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(evgenyatamanenko/Getty Images)


Researchers at the University of B.C. have found that some women don’t consider cannabis a drug and believe it’s OK to light up a joint while pregnant.

The review of six U.S. studies, published in the journal Preventative Medicine, found that an alarming number of women, around one-third, don’t think cannabis could harm their baby.

That’s despite warnings from obstetricians not to consume cannabis during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, and studies that have linked pot with a higher chance of anemia, low birth weight, and stillbirth.


Do you think it’s safe to consume cannabis while pregnant? The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada recommends women not use cannabis when trying to conceive, during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

Bob Tymczyszyn/St. Catharines Standard/Postmedia Network

Although the UBC researchers analyzed U.S. data for their report, published in the journal Preventative Medicine, they say the information is relevant for health care providers in Canada, where consuming marijuana for recreational use became legal last year.

Lead author Hamideh Bayrampour, assistant professor in the UBC department of family practice, said they couldn’t find similar studies in Canada likely because of ethical issues. She said there is a need for more Canadian data on the topic.

The concern, said Bayrampour, is that many women surveyed perceived a lack of communication from their health care providers about the risks of cannabis as an indication that the drug is safe to use during pregnancy.

“This is important because if they don’t perceive harm they are more likely to use cannabis,” she said.

“What we know for sure is that we don’t know yet whether cannabis is safe to use in pregnancy, although there is evidence emerging that if a women uses cannabis their baby might be smaller than average.”

She said it would be beneficial here for health care providers to have a discussion with patients about cannabis, just as they do now with alcohol or cigarettes.

Some women surveyed said they smoked pot while pregnant to cope with an illness, such as depression or anxiety, instead of taking stronger pharmaceutical drugs, while others identified cannabis as a way to deal with the nausea of morning sickness.

“If they are choosing between cannabis and a sedative for pain they perceive cannabis as a safer choice,” said Bayrampour.

The UBC review shows pregnant cannabis users were more likely to be under the age of 25 and to have low income and education, or use other substances such as tobacco and alcohol.

In one study, women were asked about their perception of general harm associated with cannabis use, 70 per cent of both pregnant and non-pregnant cannabis users responded that they perceived slight or no risk of harm.

“I think we need to have a question specifically related to cannabis similar to alcohol. We need to provide a safe, non judgmental environment to talk about this,” said Bayrampour. “It is a great opportunity for caregivers to start this conversation and motivate and support them in their decision to quit.”

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada recommend women not use cannabis when trying to conceive, during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

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11Jan

RCMP at UBC warning public of voyeurism incident

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RCMP at the University of British Columbia are asking potential victims to contact them after a voyeurism incident last week.

Police say the incident happened on Jan. 3, in a public restroom in the 6300-block of Agronomy Road.

The victim told police someone reached and placed a cell phone over top of the bathroom stall while they were using the washroom. The cell phone has a unique black case with a cubed and striped pattern, police say.

The RCMP confirmed in a statement that the victim first called Campus Security, who then alerted University RCMP, which caused what they say is a “slight delay” in their response time.

A man believed to be the suspect was arrested for obstruction, but later released, police added. The investigation is still ongoing at this time.

University RCMP says anyone with a similar experience should call 604-224-1322, and reminds the public that if a crime is being committed you should call 911 immediately.


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11Jan

Bathroom voyeurism reported at UBC; RCMP investigating

by admin

RCMP at the University of British Columbia are asking potential victims to contact them after a voyeurism incident last week.

Police say the incident happened on Jan. 3, in a public restroom in the 6300-block of Agronomy Road.

The victim told police someone reached and placed a cell phone over top of the bathroom stall while they were using the washroom. The cell phone has a unique black case with a cubed and striped pattern, police say.

The RCMP confirmed in a statement that the victim first called Campus Security, who then alerted University RCMP, which caused what they say is a “slight delay” in their response time.

A man believed to be the suspect was arrested for obstruction, but later released, police added. The investigation is still ongoing at this time.

University RCMP says anyone with a similar experience should call 604-224-1322, and reminds the public that if a crime is being committed you should call 911 immediately.


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10Jan

Alleged voyeur arrested after incident with cellphone in UBC washroom

by admin

An alleged voyeur was arrested after an incident in a University of British Columbia washroom, police say, and they are asking other possible victims to come forward.

In a statement, University RCMP said the man allegedly placed a cellphone over the top of a bathroom stall in a public women’s washroom on Agronomy Road, between East Mall and Health Sciences Mall, around 10 p.m. PT on Jan. 3.

The victim, who was using the washroom, called campus security who were first on the scene. Security then called police who arrested the suspect for obstruction. He was later released.

RCMP spokesperson Janelle Shoihet said officers believed he may have destroyed some evidence prior to arrest. 

“The cellphone was described as having a distinctive case — black with a cubed and striped pattern,” RCMP said in a statement.

“We would like to remind the public that if a crime is being committed that you should call 911 immediately.”

The suspect has not been charged. Shoihet said police are not releasing a name, photo or description of him at this time.

Shoihet said that police do not believe this case is related to another incident of voyeurism in a UBC women’s washroom reported in Sept. 2018.

Police are asking any additional victims of the alleged voyeur to call them at (604) 224-1322.


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