A Clear Vision for our Community
The concentration of Special Needs Facilities in Strathcona for drug addicted and mentally ill people and for people attempting to recover from addictions has already reached the saturation point. One example: once opened, the Union Gospel Mission expansion project approved in December 2007 will bring to more than 300 the number of abstinence-based addiction recovery beds within two blocks of Strathcona Elementary School. Imbalances such as this institution creates put the Strathcona community and its health at risk. There are compelling needs for these services in Vancouver, but every day we see evidence that the City’s long-standing practice of concentrating social services in Strathcona has failed. We propose the following steps to mitigate the high impact of the over-large proportion of people in Strathcona who are drug addicted, attempting to recover, and mentally ill:
A. Build more market housing
Increase the percentage of market housing in Strathcona. All new housing developments on arterial streets will contain a larger proportion of market- than non-market housing. More market housing will help support retail businesses and bring a healthy social presence to our streets. No one should be afraid to walk Strathcona’s streets. An increase in market housing will reduce the proportion of disadvantaged people in the total population without displacing them or the services available for them. More market housing will also reduce negative impact such as dying business, unsafe streets, and the cycle of addiction and poverty perpetuated by the concentration of social services.
B. Revitalize East Hastings, our shopping street
Revitalizing East Hastings Street will require increasing the proportion of market housing in order to accommodate people with the income to support retail business. Incentives will be required for existing business to remain, and for new business to locate in Strathcona. Remove the bylaw that ‘relaxed’ requirement for retail at grade level on Hastings Street in Strathcona. All new developments on East Hastings Street must have retail at pedestrian level. Encourage artists and craftspeople to open studios and galleries.
C. Increase amenities for the community
Provide increases to universally accessible amenities such as green space and parks, child care and elder care, and recreational facilities. In Strathcona, such amenities are in short supply; we have had to do more with fewer resources than other Vancouver neighbourhoods.
D. Maintain the total volume of social services at the current level only
Recognize that the proportion of people in Strathcona who are addicted or mentally ill is already too high for a healthy and balanced community. Redress the balance by enacting a moratorium on the building of new social service facilities. This moratorium can be selective, but must be restrictive enough to ensure that the proportion of the total population with addiction and mental illness issues decreases to a much more healthy level.
E. Encourage and reinforce the presence of the artistic, creative community
Strathcona’s non-conforming buildings are ideally suitable for adaptive reuse by our arts community to manufacture, exhibit and sell products of the creative imagination.