Print Edition: November 12, 2014
After a week-long referendum, Student Union Society (SUS) announced they will be increasing shuttle bus service between Chilliwack and Abbotsford as well as adding service between Langley and Abbotsford. Increased service between Chilliwack and Abbotsford received 70 per cent positive votes (312 yes, 136 no, 32 no opinion), and 53 per cent of voters were in favour of service between Abbotsford and Langley (220 yes, 196 no, 64 no opinion). The required amount of votes needed for referendum results to be valid is 450, and 480 students voted.
The changes will be implemented this coming January. Students currently pay $17.75 each semester for the service. This will be changing to $26.70, with an additional $3.50 for Chilliwack service and $5.45 for Langley.
SUS president Ryan Petersen explains that now that the results from the referendum are in, SUS can go ahead and implement the changes. The next step is to inform the university that there is a change.
“Now we just tell them that it went through and we’ll have the money in January,” he says. “We’ll notify the Office of the Registrar, because it has to be [added] on to people’s fees now. Then it will change for the winter semester.”
This will be the second time in the past year SUS has passed a mid-semester referendum to increase service, a project that has required several levels of coordination.
“Our services director [Shane Potter] is working with Impark,” Petersen says, noting that Impark then works with municipalities on an agreement. While there are no current agreements in place, the stop for the connector is expected to be somewhere near Langley Centre.
Petersen explains that he expected the increased service between Chilliwack and Abbotsford to pass. “I was fairly certain that the Chilliwack one would pass. We were getting a lot of angry emails saying that people missed their bus and couldn’t get on the bus. I knew people wanted that,” he says.
Petersen was surprised, however, with the results of the Langley bus question.
“I was surprised about the Langley one … I didn’t think it would go through, but we do it because that’s what our membership wanted, that’s what they asked us to do,” he says. “We’ve always had members coming from Langley saying that it’s great that [we] offered this for the Chilliwack students, but [that they] felt a little bit left out.”
The referendum passed with a low number of voters, even compared to previous questions on the same topic. Last year’s service expansion was decided by 862 votes, almost double the count this time.
“It’s always an ongoing conversation we’re trying to have,” Petersen says. “It’s not even at the university level — you look at any level of election, you see pretty low turnout, be it municipal, provincial, federal. Before I got involved in this, I thought “Well, that’s just how things are,” but when you’re trying to effect change, you’re trying to look for people’s feedback, you’re like, “No! You should be participating in this, you should be letting us know that yes, you love this service, or no, you don’t think the service is a good idea.”
SUS promotional staff have made more detailed posters for recent projects proposed to students, but has yet to see a positive change when it comes to turnout. “We do our best, we try to run advertisements, we throw up as many posters as we can on both campuses, we have information booths set up at high-traffic areas … We’re almost at a loss at this point,” Petersen says. “It would be fun or interesting or beneficial if we could think of something else that could really get everyone’s attention.
“But we all have a responsibility as well when we’re part of something to be aware of it and how we can better participate in it.”
With files from Michael Scoular.